Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Pick: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
by Anton Disclafani
Riverhead Books (Penguin)
2013
388 pages

Back in the woods of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a beautifully serene riding camp and school for girls of means. The girls come to Yonahlossee for a variety of reasons--their wealthy families are too busy to raise a teenage girl, their family is caught up in the Depression and trying to hold onto what little they still have, their  family is at a crossroads, or their family is burying their guilt and a shameful secret. Thea Atwell is sent to Yonahlossee for the latter--she is beginning to realize her rash actions and powerful passions have torn her family apart.

Thea has grown up with her rtwin brother and their parents on their rural farm, far from other kids and pressures. Thea has lived a sheltered life among the Florida orange groves and riding the fields on her pony. When Thea steps outside these boundaries, her mother insists that she be sent far away. Thea is mortified and afraid, alone for the first time at age fifteen. How will she cope among girls her age when she's never been around others? How will she be able to survive without the constant companionship and love of her own twin?

Thea loves the riding lessons with stern taskmaster Mr. Albrecht and even finds a group of girls she fits in with. When she realizes that the riding camp is a year-round facility, she understands the depth of her mother's anger.

As Thea learns more about life and love, she comes dangerously close to hurting everyone around her once again.

Highly recommended for book clubs and readers grade 9-up. Mature subject matter. Sexual misconduct.

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, June 27, 2013

Early Reader Pick: The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf

The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf
by Mark Teague
Orchard Books
2013
48 pages

This winsome retelling of a childhood classic, The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf will delight and entertain young readers. The pigs are cute and brimming with personality. The first two pigs behave in "typical" piggish manner--overeating and overindulging and lying around. The third pig, a girl (of course!), is clever and crafty. She gets to work building a sturdy house that will withstand the elements.

When the first and second pig's house are blown down, they run to the sanctity of the girl pig's brick house. She invites them to stay they must learn to keep the house clean. All the pigs make friends with the wolf who turns over a new leaf and becomes less "bad."

Colorful illustrations by the author are simply delightful; they are full of life and laughter. Each spread has action and minor characters tell a story of their own--whether it's the cat going after a hen or a mama duck and her brood following the pigs, each spread not only features the pigs but other animals, too.

Highly, highly recommended ages 3-up. Wonderful artwork throughout, this book will  inspire wannabe artists and illustrators.

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

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Beach Read Pick: The Other Typist

The Other Typist
by Suzanne Rindell
Amy Einhorn Books
(G.P. Putname's Sons)
2013
354 pages

For an excerpt and more

Utterly fascinating, scintillating, taut, and precise, The Other Typist pays homage to mystery and detective novels of yesteryear with a bit of crime noir drama--shades of Hitchcock's psychological thrillers--and a bit of a nostalgic romp nearly Gatsby-esque in its boistrous bawdyness and shady underbelly of bootleggers and bathtub gin.

It is 1923 in New York and a new age for women in business; Rose works for a New York City police precinct as a typist. It is her job to type up confessions of all sorts. She listens and takes down the words of murderers, rapists, drunks, and other miscreants.  Rose sits with quiet composure, nearly unflappable, as she takes down their confessions. She works under two strong male bosses, the Sargeant, an older, fatherly figure who Rose admires for his character and honestly and the younger Lieutenant Detective, who seems distant and unfriendly.

Rose's world is about to change. Odalie, a new typist, enters her world and nothing is ever the same again. Odalie is young, passionate, beautiful, and full of life. She takes the entire precinct by storm and Rose falls immediately under her spell. Odalie is a force of nature that no one can ignore.Soon, Rose is caught up in a world of bootlegging and hidden speakeasies. She doesn't know what to believe about Odalie's past. There are stories, of course, but Rose chooses to ignore petty gossip. The girls become best friends and roommates  and Rose learns to love life in the fast lane--the furs, the jewels, the gowns, the posh suite, the parties, the affluence--play a siren's song.

Rindell is a skillful and adept master puppeteer whose characters are as fascinating as they are bold. Rose is a clever narrator who never wavers---or does she? Part "Single White Female," part The Great Gatsby, The Other Typist is a literary  tour de force.

The prose of The Other Typist is particularly  exceptional. Readers will be transported to 1923 and through the eyes of Rose, they will experience New York and the Prohibition Era.

Highly, higly recommended for book clubs and fiction readers, high school and up. Adult fiction.

Mature content.

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)

Book Giveaway: Winger

Winger
by Andrew Smith
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2013

I have FIVE copies of this great new YA novel up for grabs! For every reluctant reader--male or female--Winger delivers!

Here's what I wrote when I reviewed it:

Winger is a top-notch YA read that will resonate with readers long after they have finished it. It is that rare book that speaks to all teens, male and female. Who doesn't love an underdog? And an underdog like Ryan Dean West speaks to the humanity in all of us.

Scroll down for the full review.

Publishers Weekly, starred review
Kirkus, starred review
Booklist, starred review

read the reviews

For your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog. Please include your first name, city, state, and email contact. Deadline for posts is July 15 at noon MST. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer and notified on the afternoon of July 15. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email.

Books will ship from New York courtesy of Simon & Schuster. Good luck and start posting now! Pamela


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dystopian Pick: Quarantine: The Saints

Quarantine: The Saints (book 2)
by Lex Thomas
Egmont
2013
400 pages

Available July 9, 2013

Edgy, creepy, caustic, and terrifying, The Saints picks up where The Loners left off. Will and Lucy and their rag-tag bunch of Loners are hoping that things are looking up. After eighteen months of being locked up under quarantine by the military after a deadly virus outbreak , the kids look forward to being released. They have had to fight, sometimes to the death, for food, water and clothing. Rival gangs rule the school and enforce strict policies and terror.

Varsity has terrorized McKinley High since the beginning, but Sam is beginning to lose his edge, and other gangs mean to take his power. When the canopy is lifted from overhead, kids are excited. They realize this is their chance for freedom. A man with a microphone tells the kids that they have brought food. They can't release the kids because the military thinks all the kids at McKinley have been killed. The only way to keep the kids safe, is to keep them locked up in the school. The parents promise to take care of things and drop a giant crate of food, but kids are starving and rabid. They scramble to grab what they can and will kill for the food. The Loners lose out in the food situation and Will and Lucy have to decide what to do next.

It's gang against gang for food and dominance in this no-man's land of high school hallways. Only the strong and the most cunning will survive. Can Lucy save Will? Can she even save herself? Is surviving worth it if living is being locked up? If either one of them have a chance at freedom, will they take it?

Highly recommended grade 9-up. Mature situations, violence, sex, language. Quarantine: The Loners is suitable for middle school. This second in the series is high school level. I do not have Quarantine: The Saints in my middle school library. This title is far edgier and much more violent than book one. Also, much more profanity and the mention of a sexual act.

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)


Monday, June 17, 2013

High School Pick: Winger

Winger
by Andrew Smith
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2013
439 pages

Winger is a top-notch YA read that will resonate with readers long after they have finished it. It is that rare book that speaks to all teens, male and female. Who doesn't love an underdog? And an underdog like Ryan Dean West speaks to the humanity in all of us.

 Ryan Dean West is a scrawny 14 year old junior, younger than others in his class, but he's scrappy and fierce both on and off the rugby field at Pine Mountain. He's rooming with Chas--a real zero and the typical "meathead" jock-- in O-Hall (Opportunity Hall); O-Hall is the place the "really bad kids" are sent to on campus. Ryan Dean is sent there for hacking a cell phone account. Ryan Dean knows he has to watch his back in O-Hall and around Chas in order to stay alive.

Ryan Dean is clever and quick. He tells readers that at Pine Mountain, kids can't have cell phones or electronics. Ryan Dean says, "...the kids here actually talk to each other. And they write notes, too. I know these are both ridiculously primitive human behaviors, but what else can you do when your school forces you to live like the xxxx-ing  Donner party?"( xxxx-expletive)

Coach McAuliffe, the rugby coach, is from England and he is short (like Ryan Dean) and a former winger. Ryan Dean describes his coaching style, coach "...could talk the most civilized-sounding xxxx you would ever hear, and he could cuss you out with the most vicious obscenities and it would sound like he was reading from Shakespeare."

Ryan Dean describes the O-house chaparones Mr. Farrow and Mrs. Singer as "Satan's minions." When Ryan Dean isn't slamming into people on the rugby field, he's hoping to get Annie Altman, his best friend, to think of him in a romantic way. Friendships are tested when Ryan Dean strays, but good friend and rugby teammate Joey tries to keep him on track.

Winger is a terrific YA novel that will entertain and amuse readers, but it will also force them to face bullying, teenage cruelty and angst, anxiety, depression, fear, fitting in, and friendship. Be prepared to laugh and cry with Ryan Dean.

The ending is unexpected and traumatic; don't cheat and read the ending first. Get to know Ryan Dean. Live in his world, in his heart and in his head. You'll be a better person for it.

If you know any reluctant reader, this is THE book for him/her. Boys will empathize with Ryan Dean and girls will love him.

Highly, highly recommended grade 9-up. Language, mature situations, drinking, gambling, bad prep school behavior.

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, June 6, 2013

Middle Grades Pick: In Search of Goliathus Hercules

In Search of Goliathus Hercules
by Jennifer Angus
Albert Whiteman & Company
2013
350 pages

for more, visit the author's website

Smart, satisfying and sensational, In Search of Goliathus Hercules is an adventure story with real bite (pun intended). When ten year old Henri Bell is shipped off to Woodland Farm in the United States to live with his ninety year old Great Aunt Georgie, he is crestfallen. Henri discovers he has a  strange  gift--he can hear and understand insects. His first bugg-y friend is a housefly named Dom.

Henri's mother writes that she is going in search of his missing father who was last heard from in British Malaya. Henri spends his days playing outside, staying out of Great Aunt Georgie's way  and avoiding his scary neighbor Mrs. Black--who seems to be studying him each time he sees her. Henri visits the circus and takes a job as a flea trainer, leaving behind Woodland Farm and Great Aunt Georgie.

Traveling with the circus and making new  friends excites Henri; he is going in search of Goliathus Hercules, a rare insect that Dom insists is real. Henri is not the only one interested in the rare beast. Someone else is looking for Goliathus and this is someone who  has evil intentions--both for the beast and the boy. Henri's quest will take him to foreign lands as he searches for Goliathus and any news about his father's whereabouts. The more Henri communicates with insects, the stranger he begins to feel.

Readers are in for a real treat. In Search of Goliathus Hercules is that rare book where a boy (or girl) can talk to animals (Charlotte's Web, Gregor the Overlander) and travel  on a long quest or journey (Gregor the Overlander, The Oracle of Delphi Keep). The ending of this novel will delight, excite and amaze. Beautiful illustrations of insects are done by the author and they are simply brilliant!

Highly, highly recommended 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)


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Book Giveaway: Saving Thanehaven

I have FIVE copies of this up for grabs! Win your copy before you can buy it in stores!

Saving Thanehaven
by Catherine Jinks
Egmont
2013
384 pages

Available July 9, 2013

for more, visit the publisher's website

The newest novel by author Catherine Jinks is a sure hit! Who doesn't love a knight, a quest, a princess, and a kingdom? Great fun develops.

from the publisher's website:

"With a slippery, ever twisting plot that is set inside a very confused computer, Catherine Jinks's latest novel will pull in fans of adventure, computer games, and just plain fun."

For your chance to win a copy, simply post a comment to the blog. Please include your first name, city, state and email address. Deadline for posts is July 1, 2013 at noon MST. Winners will be selected randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified by email July 2. Please check your email that day. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Egmont and Katie, thanks, Katie!

Good luck and start posting! Pamela




 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Beach Read Pick: The Lake House

The Lake House
by Marci Nault
Gallery Books
2013
 400 pages


Dive into this poignant novel rife with sweet romance, unlikely friendships, jealousy, tragedy, and hope. The lake community is small and secluded. Families living here have vacationed here since their childhood and now their children are all grown and have children of their own. Close-knit and guarded, the community does not welcome visitors, not even one of their own.

Victoria Rose grew up in a house on the lake. When the small, sleepy community wasn't exciting enough for her, she set her sights on Hollywood, becoming a famous actress, even winning an Oscar. Now, fifty years later, she's returning to the lake house from her youth. Her childhood friends are cold and downright mean, except for Molly--they remember when Victoria fled without saying good-bye and they haven't forgiven her for abandoning them and acting superior to them and their ways. High school sweetheart James still lives on the lake, and Victoria surprises herself by looking over at his house wondering if he's home and still awake.

Heather Bregman is a famous travel writer  being marketed by her fiance Charlie. Charlie is pushy and arrogant, riding Heather's coattails and using her to make money. Heather sees a small lake house for sale and flees Boston. It doesn't hurt that hot guy Tom visits his grandfather who lives in the lake house next door. Heather's dream is to fix up the small Victorian cottage and live and write in peace.

This is not the dream of the tight-knit elderly community. They don't want an outsider in their midst, and they don't want Victoria around either. Sarah and Agatha aren't worried. Victoria has never stayed at the lake. They figure she'll run away soon if history repeats itself.

What the community never counted on is that Victoria and Molly accept and welcome Heather. Although they are old enough to be her grandmother, Victoria and Molly help Heather and try to make inroads with the others.

This story is one of forgiveness and redemption, a story of deep and lasting, life-long love, a story with heart and compassion. If you read one book this summer, make sure it's The Lake House.

Highly, highly recommended for book clubs and summer reading. Some mature content, some "loose" conversations.

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, June 3, 2013

Dystopian Pick: The Testing

The Testing
by Joelle Charbonneau
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
2013
336 pages

Available June 4, 2013

Fans of The Hunger Games finally have a new trilogy to whet their appetites! The Testing is fierce, ferocious, fantastic, and fascinating. Sixteen year old Malencia (Cia) Vale is chosen with four others from her community to attend The Testing. Candidates are whisked away to the capitol and will undergo Testing to see who will advance to the University and their chance to have professional jobs.

Cia's father went through the Testing and University years before and warns her to trust no one. He also tells her about terrible dreams--nightmares,  really--he has about the Testing. Although he never sees the whole dream; he sees bits and pieces-- a white room, a scream, burned out buildings, glass in the street, an explosion.  After candidates survive the Testing, their memories are wiped, but Cia's father still remembers that terrible things happened when he went throught the Testing.

Now Cia is on edge; not only because of her father's warning but because she knows she's never see her home and family again. Once Testing and University are completed, the Commonwealth selects where to send its graduates and Cia knows her  chances of  getting back to the Five Lakes Colony  are slim. During the trip to the Testing center, Cia gets closer to Tomas, a boy from her school.

The candidates are put through a series of grueling tests, all the time while  being monitored. Cia and Tomas pass their first tests and the group moves to the last test. This one requires that they be dropped miles away from the University into the wilderness where dangers lurk--wild animals and worse. The teens are allowed to choose three items to help them survive and find their way back to the University. Tomas and Cia agree to work together to stay alive, but Cia remembers her father's warning about trusting  no one.

This is not The Hunger Games. I was prepared not to love this book. I thought it would be very familiar territory: teens fighting each other for dominance. Only the strong and smart survive. Been there, done that. The Testing has much, much more. The tests are both for knowledge--history of the wars, the new government, mathematical equations, poisonous plants, chemistry, physics, and basic knowledge of simple machines--and  physical; the physical  test not only requires endurance, but Cia and Tomas must problem solve and make split second decisions while trying to stay alive. Eat the wrong plant, drink tainted water, get a cut or wound that gets infected, and not only is your Test over, you die.

The Testing is a wild rollar coaster ride--exciting and enthralling unfolding at a breakneck pace with taut suspense and clever pace.  Cia is a strong-willed competitor, smart, sly, and stubborn. She is the girl readers will want as their partner in The Testing.

The Testing is hopeful where The Hunger Games was dark. Cia and Tomas can better their world. In The Hunger Games, the capitol controlled what people did, where they lived, if they ate or if they starved. In The Testing, the Commonwealth  is rebuilding. There is electricity and pure water. The Testing is done to find the best, the brightest and the strongest who will help rebuild their world. That said, who knows what evil lurks behind the smiling faces of the Commonwealth?

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. This is for fans of The Hunger Games, and may be the next "big thing." The Testing: Independent Study comes out January 2014 and book three, Graduation Day is due June 2014.

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)






Saturday, June 1, 2013

Book Giveaway: Early Reader Pick: A Funny Little Bird

I have ONE copy of this cute new read for the younger set.

A Funny Little Bird
by Jennifer Yerkes
Sourcebooks
2013
48 pages

An invisible little bird longs for attention and belonging. He decorates himself with plumage and gets lots of attention--some unwanted--from a fox! What's a bird to do?

For your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog and include your first name, city, state, and email contact. Deadline for posts is June 10 at noon MST.

The winner will be chosen randomly by Randomizer on June 10. Please check your email on that date. The winner has 24 hours to respond to my email. The book will ship courtesy of Sourcebooks.