Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Early Reader Pick: The Favorite Daughter

The Favorite Daughter
by Allen Say
Arthur A. Levine Books
2013
32 pages

Beautiful watercolor art bring this sweet story to life. Yuriko is embarrassed when her art teacher calls her "Eureka," and the kids begin teasing her. To make matters worse, she took in a picture of herself wearing a kimona. The students tease her for being a blonde and for wearing the kimona. "They said Japanese dolls have black hair," she laments to her father.

Yoriko wants to change her name to something more American. She tells her dad she wishes she were named Jennifer and she swears she hates art. Her father takes her to their favorite restaurant to talk things over.

After a visit to Golden Gate Park and the Japanese Gardens, Yoriko knows what she wants to create for her art project.

The father/daughter relationship is poignant and powerful. Say uses two photographs of Yoriko--one as a child and one from a trip they took to Japan--incorporating the real life photos of Yoriko with the watercolor art is genius.

This picture book is a beautiful example of family values, generational values, the importance of one family's culture, the idea of "fitting in" in society and how each person values his/her own identity.

Highly, highly recommended grade pre-K-3. The Favorite Daughter is sure to be another award winner for Allen Say and is a must have for any collection.

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

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Dystopian Pick: The Darkest Path

The Darkest Path
by Jeff Hirsch
Scholastic Press
2013
336 pages
Available October 2013

Visit the author's website for more

Jeff Hirsch continues to give readers just what they want. Magisterium and The Eleventh Plague set him up as one writer to watch and The Darkest Path cements his presence in YA literature. The United States has been ripped in two. Some states are still part of the government and they are known as "Fed." Other states have broken away and are following a charismatic leader who indoctinates followers to follow "The Glorious Path." It is join them or die.

Callum Roe and his younger brother James were captured by the Path six years ago and Cal has risen up the ranks. He is an undercover spy and helps infiltrate communities ripe for the Path. When he sees what carnage the Path is capable of firsthand, he knows he must do something.

Cal finds a stray dog with the name Bear on his tags. He plays with the pup and doesn't want to deliver it back to the base to be trained as a vicious attack dog. When he is confronted by his maniacal boss, Kennel Master Quarles, he shoots him in self defense. Now Cal must run. He has killed a superior and ignored orders. He begs his younger brother to come along, but James has been "brainwashed" by the Path.

On the run for much of the book, Cal leans on Bear and some good souls along the way. Cal is caught and taken back before President Hill. He realizes that Hill plans to attack major cities in the United States and he is using people's belief in him and in God to control his campaign, and nothing and no one can stop him. Or can they?

The Darkest Path is one edgy, dark dystopia I never want to visit. This was a frightening vision of America and what could happen in our near future, and it is one vision I hope never comes true.

Highly recommended for readers who enjoy dystopian fiction grade 7-up. Violence. No language.

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)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Zombie Pick: Unfed (sequel to Undead)

Unfed
by Kirsty McKay
Chicken House
288 pages
2013
Available September 2013

Read an excerpt and see more

The blood spattered cover says it all! This is serious zombie gore and teens will love the sequel to last year's Undead. Kirsty McKay is the Libba Bray of zombie comedy and a truly infectious author.

Bobby barely survived last year's zombie invasion (Undead) and now she finds herself in a crazy hospital surrounded by Scotland's hungry hordes of ravenous flesh eaters. She doesn't know where Smitty is or if he's okay or not. He was infected, but Bobby made sure she injected him with what she hopes is the zombie antidote. Bobby must escape the hospital and begins to figure out how. That's when she is reunited with geekster Pete and snarktastic Alice. The three of them must break a tough code, find Smitty, reunite with Bobby's mom, escape the hospital, and fight to stay alive! And these zombies aren't last year's stupid, slow zombies. These zombies are learning to work together and are learning to communicate--which isn't good news for the humans.

As the kids run, swim, fall, drive, and basically super-spy 007 James Bond-like escape, Bobby and new guy Russ try to break the code left behind by Bobby's mother. They've made more enemies than just the undead. There's tons of alive soldiers out to get them, and Bobby is dying to know why. Two companies are fighting for the secret formula developed by Bobby's mother, but who will win? And who will be alive to care?


Zombies, zombies, everywhere: zombinos, zombie goats, zombie cows, Scotland will never be the same.

Hilarious and over-the top, tongue-in-cheek zombie wise cracks, mean teen chic, snarky put-downs, and outrageous escapes from the jaws of death (pun intended) will keep teens reading into the wee hours. This one is unputdownable and fun. Think Shaun of the Dead crossed with A Bad Day for Voodoo, and infected ( again, pun intended) with Stephen King with a serious sense of teen humor. This is the most fun you can have reading a book.

Seriously, highly, highly recommended and contagious (yep, pun intended) grade 9 and up. Some language and tons of gore.



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, July 18, 2013

Ghostly Pick: The Watcher in the Shadows

The Watcher in the Shadows
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Little, Brown and Company
2013
262 pages

See what the author says about his young adult books

Master storyteller Carlos Ruiz Zafon (The Shadow of the Wind, The Prince of Mist) has done it again! The Watcher in the Shadows is that rare and beautiful book that will captivate young readers. It has all the elements a reader craves: a dark mystery, an eccentric inventor who lives in a strange mansion--Cravenmoore--so aptly named--it's a dark name, a gothic name. The mansion is full of whimsical inventions but some are truly terrifying. The setting: the rugged coast of Normandy. The characters: Irene Sauville, a fourteen year old girl who moves to Normandy with her widowed mother and younger brother Dorian. Irene's mother, Simone takes the position of manager of Cravenmoore for the strange and quirky inventor Lazarus Jann (even the name Lazarus is creepy--in the Bible, Lazarus rose from the dead).

Irene meets a local boy named Ismael who shows her the town and takes her sailing. They are smitten with one another and soon are inseparable. Lazarus tells young Dorian a strange story of a man who makes a deal with the devil, so to speak. The man and his shadow are separated and his shadow runs rampant on a murdering spree. The shadow is a doppelganger (a copy) of the man. Dorian likes spending time with the strange inventor even though some of his automatons (robots) scare him.

When a murder occurs near Cravenmoore, villagers begin to spread rumors. Ismael and Irene  investigate and soon find danger everywhere they turn. The kids will need to act fast if they want to save their own lives and Irene's mother and brother. What evil invention has Lazarus brought to life? And why is it intent on killing them? What is the strange fascination Lazarus has for Simone? What secrets are hidden in the secret rooms of Cravenmoore?

Richly imagined, finely tuned, fast paced and fun, The Watcher in the Shadows delivers.

Highly, highly recommended grade 5-up. A must read for lovers of ghost stories and gothic literature.

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: Infinityglass

Infinity Glass
by Myra McEntire
Egmont
2013
Available August 6, 2013

For the Hourglass fan site and more stuff

I have FIVE free copies of this great new YA title and the third book of the Hourglass series.

From the publisher's website:

"No time like the present.




No time in the present.



No time left.



From the moment the Hourglass group violated the rules of the space time continuum to rescue a murdered loved one, time has been in flux. People from other centuries slide into our time, intruding into our space, threatening our world.



Frantically seeking a way to turn back this tide, the Hourglass begins a search for the legendary Infinityglass, tracking it to the city of New Orleans, a place where the past rests easily with the present."

Dune is selected and sent to New Orleans, but he soon finds out that the Infinityglass isn't an object, it's a person!

For your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog and include your first name, city, state and email. I need your email address in order to contact you should you win! Deadline for posts is August 15, 2013 at noon MST. Winners will be notified shortly after on that date. Please check your email. Winners are selected randomly by Randomizer. Books will ship to winners courtesy of Egmont.

Good luck and start posting! Pamela

Friday, July 12, 2013

Time Travel Pick: Plague in the Mirror

Plague in the Mirror

By Deborah Noyes

Candlewick Press

2013

306 pages



What if someone is your exact twin but living centuries away? And what if that person has evil intentions? And what if time allows that stranger to catch up with you? And what if that stranger is not nice…not nice at all.



Dark, deceptive, seductive, and haunting, Plague in the Mirror is a novel rich in history, its setting in present day Florence and in the Florence of the past: 1348 Florence.



May is on a vacation with childhood friend Liam and his mother Gwen. They visit the famous tourist sites in Florence living and breathing the city’s rich history and past. May is visited by a ghostly girl who is her exact twin. Cristofana has been searching for a look-alike for a long time, and she’s not about to let May walk away.



May travels with her ghostly twin to Florence in 1348. She thinks she may be dreaming or quite possibly out of her mind. The plague kills with a vengeance, and May is frightened. She searches for a way out and meets a beautiful stranger. May finds the portal and returns to her friends, but she’s troubled by the chance meeting with the dark stranger who is now always in her thoughts.



Cristofana wants to live in May’s world. She wants to live and be free of a time where so many have died. If she stays in 1348, chances are that she, too, will die. May plays with fire and returns again and again to 1348. It’s dangerous and it’s romantic. How much is she willing to risk for love at first sight? Two girls who are carbon copies. Two girls who long to be somewhere else—in another century.

Will May fight for her life? Or will she give in to passion?



Fantastic cover art will draw readers to pick this novel up. The premise of a ghost story, time travel and a beautiful Italian setting has strong appeal as well. Noyes develops modern day Florence and Florence of the past in fantastic detail.

Recommended grade 9-up. Language, 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)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Don't Miss: The Archived

The Archived

By Victoria Schwab

Hyperion

2013

321 pages



Brilliant, thoughtful and powerful, The Archived is a real treat for readers who love a captivating story, a feisty female protagonist and a charming, almost alarming and totally disarming, male love interest.



MacKenzie Bishop, aka Mac, is a Keeper. It is her job to capture and return missing Histories to the Archive where they can be shelved. The Archive is a special storehouse where the Librarians maintain the Histories of each dead person. Once one escapes into the Outer, the Archive is in danger.



After the death of her beloved younger brother Ben, Mac’s family moves to the Coronado, a massive old building that was once a beautiful and prestigious hotel. Its old grandeur can still seen in the marble floors and sweeping staircase, but history has taken its toll on the old building—it’s dusty, musty, and ancient. There are only a few residents who still live there, but Mac’s mother dreams of opening a coffee shop in the old building. Soon, strange things begin to happen at the hotel.



Mac meets Wesley, a boy who visits his aunt and cousin at the Coronado. Lucky for her, he seems to show up whenever she needs help, and being a Keeper is a dangerous vocation.



As Mac begins to investigate the strange deaths of several past residents of the Coronado, the Archive is in danger of crumbling. Roland, Mac’s favorite librarian, agrees to work with Mac to find answers, but he warns her to speak to no one else. Someone In the Archive is working from within to destroy it.



Readers will love the obvious smoldering hot attraction between Mac and Wesley, and Wesley is swoon-worthy and oh, so quick witted and smooth. The Archived is a darkly compelling novel oozing with gothic romance. Victoria Schwab excels at world building and this is one fascinating world I wanted to live in. The idea of a “library” that houses the “Histories” of each life and is maintained by “librarians” and cataloged with order is a novel one.



Highly, highly recommended for readers grade 7-up. Some kissing.



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)

Novel in Verse: Serafina's Promise

Serfina's Promise
by Ann E. Burg
Scholastic Press
2013
304 pages

Available October 2013

(image from author's website)

Poignant, beautiful, and precious, Serafina's Promise tells the story of extreme poverty and hardship through the eyes of eleven-year-old Serafina. Serafina longs to play games and run around with her friends but her family needs her to haul water several times a day. Her Manman and Gogo depend on her. There is no one else to do all the chores. Papa works in Port-au-Prince, miles from their home.

Serafina dreams of going to school to learn how to write and read. She wants to become a doctor and save sick babies, like her little brother who died. She knows she has to convince her parents that she must go to school. There is no money for school uniforms or pencils, but Serafina decides that she will work for the money somehow.

A flood destroys their village and their home. They have lost everything but they still have each other. Serafina's dream is put on hold until the family clears land and rebuilds. A series of tragedies does little to hinder this young girl's spirit, and Serafina begins to realize her dream.

Written in verse (similar to Out of the Dust by Hesse), Serafina's Promise is an easy read for reluctant readers and sure to please those readers who love poetry. Young readers will gain insight into a country they may never have known about--Haiti--with its poverty, hunger, and tragedy. Ann E. Burk is donating a portion of her royalties to Haitian People's Support Project and Pure Water for the World.

Highly, highly recommended for middle grades 4-up. Add this to any collection of free verse and poetry.

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)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Picture Perfect: Night Light

Night Light
by Nicholas Belchman
Orchard Books
2013
48 pages

Colorful die-cut pages will have young readers captivated and guessing which vehicle the lights belong on.
Genius designs work double duty when the page is turned and the vehicle revealed. The die cut on the left now becomes die-cut on the new page--a chef's saute pans, elephants'  trunks, and people hailing a cab.

This book will be treasured by any young reader in love with vehicles of all kinds, but the design and graphic detail is to be celebrated as well.

Highly, highly recommended for young readers age 3-up. Amazing detail with die cut and color!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the (folded and gathered) book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.