Tuesday, December 23, 2014

YA Pick: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
by Leslye Walton
Candlewick Press
2014
301 pages
ISBN: 9780763665661

View the book trailer

Breathtaking, mesmerizing and stunning, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a brilliant debut! The prose dazzles off the pages and reads like a lyrical musical score. It's as if Leslye Walton was able to sprinkle fairy dust throughout the pages. This book makes my top four books of all times joining literary tour de force novels: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Shadow of the Wind and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.

Twins Ava and Henry Lavender are born into a family of strong women who sadly make terrible and often tragic mistakes in love. Maman, the matriarch of the family line, comes from France to make her home and fortune in a new land. Arriving in Manhattan, she is disappointed to find crowded and dirty tenements. This is certainly not her American dream. She finally is able to move the family to the Northwest. Maman loses her husband and sisters, but they continue to follow her dogged steps as ghosts.  Her daughter Emilienne gives birth to baby Viviane and loses her husband shortly after. Because the town's people think she is a witch, she is unable to make a living at the bakery her husband cherished. Until a Native American woman named Wilhelmina shows up, that is. Wilhelmina sees herself in Emilienne. She says, "Death just seems to follow some of us, doesn't it?...It's easy to spot your own kind. That kind of sorrow you can't just wash away; it sticks to you." She shows Emilienne how to perform a cleansing ceremony at  the bakery and promises that business will explode. The next day, the bakery sells out.

Baby Viviane  grows up and becomes friends with Jack, her first and only love. It is Jack who moves the plot along throughout Viviane's life. She is heartbroken when he leaves for college and returns married to another woman. Viviane births  twins Ava and Henry. Both children are fiercely loved by their mother and Wilhelmina. They are sheltered at home and rarely leave the property. Henry develops late and is a strange child, avoiding people and speech. Ava has an even stranger trait that will prove her undoing.

Viviane is blessed with certain gifts. Her sense of smell is amazing. She can tell when a woman was pregnant or how a person was feeling just by her scent. "Happiness had a pungent scent, like the sourest lime or lemon. Broken hearts smelled surprisingly sweet. Sadness filled the air with a salty, sea-like redolence; death smelled like sadness." She also knows when rain is on the way or when one of her children is in danger.

The bakery is perhaps the most important place in the book. It is where Emilienne is able to work and feed her family. It is where Viviane grows up. It is where the town people go for sustenance. Emilienne's pastries are magical. The wedding cake of Ignatius Lux and Estelle Margolis was so delectable that, "After this wedding unmarried women woke in the night with tears in their eyes, not because they were alone, but because there wasn't any cake left."


Sorrow follows each generation of the Roux family. The females seem destined or cursed to choose the wrong man and the wrong man always shows up. My favorite quote of the entire book comes from wise Wilhelmina, "Just because love don't look the way you think it should don't mean you don't have it." In other words, love comes from your work, your friends, your world, and does not have to involve a couple. Love can be found in other things.

This is one book I absolutely will read more than once, just to savor its flavor. In one sitting, you simply cannot take in everything: the story, the sadness, the fantasy, the painted masterpiece of magic which soars off the page. The story builds to a cacophonous crescendo that you won't easily forget. This is the stuff dreams are made of.

I will not forget Ava Lavender and her strange and beautiful sorrows any time soon. It's a story that I continue to think about.

This novel gets the HIGHEST recommendation I could ever give a book. I simply LOVE it. Do yourself a favor, get this book today.

Suitable grade 9-up. Some mature content. Pre-marital sex.

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, December 17, 2014

Max and the Won't Go To Bed Show
by Mark Sperring and Sarah Warburton
Scholastic Press
2014
32 pages
ISBN: 9780545708227

Max is a mighty magician and a little too--tricky. He uses his grand magic show and top hat full of tricks to make his  bed time later and later. He'll do anything to stall for just a few more minutes. So, take your seats, ladies and gentlemen, for the greatest show on earth.

Max can make cookies disappear (by eating them), he can tame savage beasts (his family's pampered pup), he can disappear (running and hiding), he can even pull out rabbits, bears and raccoons (stuffed toys).

When he finally gets into bed, Max demands not one story...not two stories...but ten stories! Finally, even a great magician like Max gets tired...and sleeps.

Vibrant  art in reds and yellows capture the activity and excitement of Max's "tricks." Young readers will see themselves in Max and probably dream up some new "tricks" of their own.

Recommended for pre-school and beginning readers. Sure to be a bedtime favorite.

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



YA Pick: All Fall Down

All Fall Down
An Embassy Row Novel (Book 1)
by Ally Carter
Scholastic Press
320 pages
2015
ISBN: 9780545654746

Available January 20, 2015

Another exciting series by Ally Carter hits shelves in January. All Fall Down (Book 1) will likely find new fans of Carter as she begins the saga of Embassy Row in the make believe country of Adria.

Grace Blakely remembers the day her mother died because she was there. Everyone, including her grandfather, a powerful ambassador from the United States, tries to convince Grace that her mother died in an accident. It was a fire, they say. Grace knows differently. She saw the man who killed her mother as he fled the scene. A bald man with a scar on his face. It's a face she'll never forget.

Grace is forced to move back to her mother's childhood home on Embassy Row in Adria, a Mediterranean country; she must follow the rules and play nicely or face international shame and incident. Her country is counting on her. Her grandfather is, too. Alexei, her new next door neighbor, is watching over Grace. But he's not the only one. There are others who are keeping track of her for their own reasons.

When a few of the Embassy Row kids get involved in solving "The Case of the Man With the Scar," Grace is afraid to include them but does so, grudgingly and against her better judgment. The kids explore the underground passages that connect all the embassies, and Grace comes face to face with Dominic, the bald man with the scar.

When the American President shows up for a summit at the U.S. Embassy, the group of kids knows that they must protect him above all people. Grace is getting closer to answers about her mother's death but she's putting herself in grave (literally) danger. Grace's circle of friends is about the expand, and she's not going to believe who the good guys are.

Book 1 sets up for the second book nicely. Grace uncovers  more grisly details of her mother's death, forms a new alliance, and discovers more than one secret.

Highly, highly recommended for Ally Carter fans and fans of spy and espionage. Suitable for grade 7-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)


Monday, December 15, 2014

YA Pick: What Waits in the Woods

What Waits in the Woods
by Kieran Scott
Point
2014
288 pages
ISBN: 9780545691123

Available March 31, 2015

Novice hiker and camper Callie Velasquez agrees to go on a four day camping trip with her BFFs Penelope and Lissa. Her new boyfriend Jeremy tags along and the group sets off into the woods. Callie is unsure of herself and terrified to admit it to the others. After a spooky story around the campfire, Callie hears a maniacal laugh coming from the woods. They aren't the only ones out in the dark--they have company.

The next day after a frightening accident, they lose their cellphones and food. A stranger appears out of nowhere and says he can help them find their way. Ted lives in a cabin a few miles away and promises to take the campers there where they can use the phone, take showers and wait for their parents to pick them up. Callie and the others are leery. Is Ted to be trusted? Why was he so far from his cabin? How did he suddenly show up where they were?

Someone is trying to scare the kids. There's a doll with blood on it. Next, there's some voodoo-like twig dolls left at their campsite. And the laugh. Someone is following them.

Plot twists and dark secrets complicate the trip until Callie isn't sure what to believe. Could someone in their group be the real killer? Can she trust Jeremy?

A few problems with believability: Why do the parents of high school girls allow their daughters out into the woods for several nights ALONE? None of them have a weapon. None of them was ever an Eagle Scout or a master tracker. None of them knows the woods like the back of their hand. They don't have the proper equipment for emergencies. They have no backup plan. Also, would a new girl like Callie trust near strangers enough to agree to go on an unsupervised camping trip? It's not like she knew any of her group for very long. If you can suspend disbelief about all of that, What Waits in the Woods is an easy read with a twist or two.

Recommended grade 9-up. Murder, suspicion, stolen moments in the woods, mental illness.

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, December 10, 2014

Teen Pick: Backlash

Backlash
by Sarah Darer Littman
Scholastic Press
2014
336 pages
ISBN: 9780545651264

Available March 31, 2015



The trouble with the Internet is that in the click of a mouse, you can ruin lives. One click, and someone can die. One click, and someone is destroyed. One click, and someone can crack. On some sites, you can disguise who you are. You can pretend to be someone that you're not. With no repercussions unless...someone is hurt or someone dies. Then there's an investigation. As in police investigation.

Teen  neighbors Lara and Bree were BFFs in middle school, but Bree joins the ranks of the popular kids in high school and all but ignores old friend Lara completely. Bree becomes a cheerleader and Lara gets lost in the shuffle. At the next year's tryouts both girls try out. Lara is picked for the squad and she's over the moon with happiness. Bree is not picked for the squad and she drips jealousy and is out for revenge. Who knows Lara better than anyone else? Her old BFF, and she's up to no good. She begins her revenge using the Internet and it becomes bigger than her. Now she can't stop the repercussions of things she's posted, and the saddest thing is--she's not all that sorry for the fallout she's caused.

It's neighbor against neighbor and the press and police are now involved.

A cautionary tale that is all too true in today's society of "post everything" and try to get more hits than anyone else. Popularity is defined by how many followers you have. Teens are thrilled when their tweets are re-tweeted and to be "trending" is their ultimate obsession.

Recommended grade 9-up. Really, really bad behavior and bullying.

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, December 9, 2014

YA Pick: Jackaby

Jackaby
by William Ritter
Algonquin Young Readers
2014
299 pages
ISBN: 9871616203535

Remarkably novel, sincerely charming, and full of cheeky dialog, Jackaby is written  by an American debut novelist. William Ritter pulls off this trick by inventing an enigmatic character who harkens back to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes with a bit of Doctor Who and a bit of Grimm thrown in.

R.F. Jackaby is a young detective who is interested and specializes in "unexplained phenomena." In 1892, Miss Abigail Rook leaves port in Europe and sails to America. She is running from a life of boredom as an English housewife and running from her parents who want her to be a good girl and settle down. Abigail arrives with little money and must look for a job and a place to stay immediately. Lucky for her, Jackaby is looking for an assistant to help him pay bills, keep his correspondence, and be a sounding board during cases.

Their first case together is a bloody one. They sneak their way past the police and onto a crime scene where a man has been attacked and killed. Jackaby's keen eye and intellect spot things others miss. Abigail picks up clues as well. Together, they make a great team. Abigail's placement as a "partner" allows Jackaby to explain details of each scene and what they mean.

Soon, other murders occur and the two realize the killer may be someone close to them. Strange characters and happenings occur and only Jackaby can explain the various fairies, goblins, gremlins and beasts.

The mystery unfolds like an intricate origami masterpiece. One fold at a time. One book will not quench the reader's thirst for Jackaby. I want more! Much, much more Jackaby!  Jackaby is such a puzzle, such an enigma, such a riddle that readers will want to discover what makes him tick.

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. No profanity, no sex, gore and blood only. This book gets my #1 pick of the 2014 year! I'm sure it will take top honors from many publications and ALA and YALSA.

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, December 8, 2014

YA Book Giveaway: Jackaby

Jackaby
by William Ritter
Algonquin Young Readers
2014
299 pages
ISBN: 9781616203535

I LOVE this book, and you will, too! Jackaby is an enigmatic character who is a mash up of Sherlock, Dr. Who and "Grimm."  Imagine the skills of Sherlock Holmes and sixth sense for paranormal--that's Jackaby.

I have FIVE FREE copies of this magnificent debut up for grabs! Simply post a comment to the blog and be sure to include your first name, city, state, and email address (U.S. addresses, only). Deadline for posts is at noon MST on December 17. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer. Please check your email on the afternoon of December 17. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from Algonquin. Good luck and start posting!

Praise for Jackaby:

"The rich world of this debut demands sequels." --Kirkus reviews, starred review


“Smooth writing and inventive . . . background touches (like Jackaby’s tenants and pocket contents) characterize this supernatural riff on the typical Sherlockian murder mystery. For a lighter read-alike, try Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer’s Sorcery and Cecilia (2004); for a darker tone, perhaps Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart mysteries.” —Booklist

“Toss together an alternate 19th-century New England city, a strong tradition of Sherlockian pastiche, and one seriously ugly hat, and this lighthearted and assured debut emerges, all action and quirk.” —Publishers Weekly

“Fans of Jonathan Stroud's The Screaming Staircase will appreciate Ritter's initial foray into the realm of supernatural . . . Avid lovers of fantasy will enjoy this quick read.” —School Library Journal

Friday, December 5, 2014

Percy Jackson PIck: Percy Jackson's Greek Gods

Percy Jackson's Greek Gods
by Rick Riordan
Illustrated by John Rocco
Hyperion
2014
311 pages with index
full color illustrations
ISBN: 9781423183648

Visit the world of Rick Riordan



Told with humor and a healthy helping of snark,  Percy Jackson--hero of the Lightning Thief series and demigod  son of Poseiden,-- tells the story of the Greek myths. Percy is a lovable narrator, making fun of the ancient myths at every turn. Mixing the old myths with teen humor and pop culture references makes this retelling fresh and compelling.

Beginning with the time before the gods, Percy tells of the creation of the world and the Titans. It all begins with Chaos and Gaea. A sky is formed and names itself Ouraos, Percy says, "...and, yeah, that's another spelling for Uranus. There's pretty much no way you can pronounce that name without people snickering. It just sounds wrong." Percy wonders why a god didn't choose a more palatable name "like Deathbringer or Jose..."

Kronos and the Titans rule in a time Percy calls "The Golden Age of Cannibalism." Kronos not only is in control, he is also associated with time itself. Although, "He couldn't pop around the time stream like Doctor Who or anything...," he does rule the earth and sky until the rise of the Greek gods.

Zeus and the others defeat Kronos with the help of the Hundred handed Ones,  and Zeus becomes the leader of the gods taking Hera as his wife.

Each Greek myth  is told in detail by Percy and peppered with hilarious barbs and comments. Percy opens the chapter on Demeter (goddess of the fields and wheat) by saying, "Try not to get too excited, because this chapter is all about the goddess of wheat, bread and cereal. Demeter just flat out rocks when it comes to carbohydrates."

Readers will be entertained and laugh out loud as they read each chapter. The lively street banter between Zeus and Poseidon sounds like an 80s comedy skit from SNL. Chapter titles are cute, too. "Poseiden Gets Salty" for the god of the sea. "Ares, The Manly Man's Manly Man" for the god of war. "Dionysis Conquers the World With a Refreshing Beverage" for the god of wine.

Highly, highly recommended for fans of Rick Riordan and the Percy Jackson series. Mythology lovers will want to add this to their mythology collection. A must have for library collections. Book lovers will fall in love at first sight.

When I saw a display of this book at the local Barnes and Noble, I was impressed. And kids will be, too! It's oversized, colorful, and beautiful and a copy would be an impressive thing to own. Fans of the Percy Jackson series will have to have a copy of this book. Illustrations by John Rocco are outstanding.

Grade 4-up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for the school library. 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, December 4, 2014

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Book Giveaway: The Long Haul

I have FIVE FREE copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul up for grabs!!!!! Simply post a comment to the blog and be sure to include first name, city, state, and email. Deadline for posts is noon MST December 10. Be sure to check your email after 12:00 p.m. on that date. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified on December 10. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Amulet. Good luck and start posting! Pamela

See my review of this exciting book. See previous post.

Here is The Long Haul bus in NYC

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wimpy Kid Pick: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
Book 9
by Jeff Kinney
Amulet Books
2014
217 pages
ISBN: 9781419711893



The funniest times and most memorable times any family can spend are road trips gone wrong, horrible vacations and tragic yet hilarious  family reunions. No matter how well planned, no matter the amount of hope going into a trip, no matter the careful list making  of the mother or father, everything that can go wrong usually does.

Greg Heffley's problem is that his mother puts her faith in "Family Frolic" magazine, a colorful if untrue portrait of how honky dory every family moment can be if only you follow the Family Frolic way. Greg's mom lives and breathes this magazine and somehow thinks that through magic the Heffleys can become the perfect Family Frolic family. She decides that a well-planned family road trip is just what her family needs to be the ideal American family, one that she aspires to be.

Greg's father decides that his old wreck of a boat--complete with a hole in its hull--should be towed behind them the entire trip. Somehow, again by magic or wishful thinking or both, the boat will be seaworthy. The family stashes all their extra vacation junk in the boat.

Greg's mom decrees that the family should play a game called Alphabet Groceries, a game she read about in, yep, you guessed it, Family Frolic. Each player will say the letter of the alphabet and then something they could buy in the store that begins with that letter. Obviously, the first choice is "A" and "apple." Next, it's Rodrick's turn. He says he can't think of anything that starts with a "B," so he's out. Greg knows that Rodrick is playing dumb--maybe for the first time of his life. Greg later relates a story showing Rodrick's intelligence. When he was supposed to read Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings for a school assignment, Rodrick realizes he'll never read it, so he rents the video "Lords of the Ring," a pro wrestling video! Imagine that book report!

The family has car trouble, hotel trouble, pig trouble, county fair trouble, swimming pool trouble, and road trouble before it's all over. This edition of Wimpy Kid is way more fun than earlier ones. The Long Haul is the real deal--this is the best book of the entire series. Buy this book immediately! Buy this book for any kid of any age. It's a treasure.


Highly, highly recommended for ALL ages!

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)


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Stephen King Pick: Revival

Revival
by Stephen King
Scribner
2014
403 pages
ISBN: 9781476770383

Masterful in weaving an epic tale of good versus evil,  Stephen King delivers a fine story like no other writer is able to. Revival is a story of a long ago--long ago though not forgotten time--of small towns and even smaller churches, of prayers and praying, of preachers and church going, of church suppers and sing-alongs, and hymns on Sunday, funerals and baptisms, and a mountain of human suffering. The past is not all rosy and bright Garrison Keiller and Lake Wobegon.

 In small town Harlow,  Jamie Morton grows up in a loving family with older siblings, a doting mother and hard working father. This was a time when boys played with plastic soldiers and set up battlefields all over the dirt yards and fields. A time when the family ate supper at the same table, where children were expected to eat what was put on their plate and be thankful for it. When Jamie is six, a new preacher comes to town. Reverend Jacobs  is young for the job, but the town is happy to have him and soon they are captivated by his youth and charisma. His pretty wife and young son complete the Norman Rockwell family portrait.

When a terrible accident happens, the community shaken. The young pastor's world is rocked and he forced to leave  town after giving a sermon criticizing God. Blasphemy being preached in the church by their very own pastor? In small town New England, this is the worst sin.

Years and years later, miles and miles of honkytonks,  the bottom of too many bottles, and at the end of too many needles, Jamie wakes up in a heroine hell. Outside of Tulsa and nearly broke, he knows he needs to score in order to feel better. He wastes time until dark and goes in search of a fix at the local carnival. It is here he runs into the pastor of his youth.  This second encounter with the man who gave up on God will change both of their lives forever.

After getting clean Jamie takes a job in Colorado with an old "friend" of  Charles Roberts (aka Reverend Jacobs). Befriended  and taken in by Hugh Yates, Jamie begins to investigate the life his savior/nemesis Charles Roberts. While it is true that Roberts has "cured" many a sick person, others he has helped  have exhibited strange behavior and suicidal tendencies. Just what is it that the "pastor" is delivering? What is Roberts gaining from his strange studies?

King delivers an epic tale of religion and sin, of redemption and forgiveness, of pain and suffering, of love and hurt, and of the survival and revival of the human spirit. In The Stand (1978), the end of the world is near and armies are being formed for the good and the evil. In Revival, the same struggle is again visited by King on a much deeper level. In fiction, you may never see a character as charismatic and evil as Reverend Jacobs/Charles Roberts again. Real life, however, is full of examples of enigmatic, maniacal egotists. Just pick up any history book--you'll see them there.

King relates his own love of music and playing live through Jamie. I loved King's asides about age, getting older, and young people looking younger., and I love that King says, "Key of E. All that xxxx starts in E."

Highly, highly recommended grade 9 and up. Recommended for any King fan and any book club.

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)








Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Night Before the Night Before Christmas
by Jay Dee
Illustrated by Darren Geers
Kraine Kreative
2014
32 pages
ISBN: 9780989810821

I have a signed copy ready for giveaway! See the blog post for this giveaway on this blog. Scroll down, please.

Beautiful design  and colorful illustrations bring Elfie and his "problem" to life. The cover art will capture readers' hearts.

Elfie is tasked by Santa to make a very special toy. Santa knows Elfie will spend hours making the toy train just perfect. When Elfie is chastised by Nathan, the elf supervisor, he gets worried that Santa will be mad at him. He had a whole list of toys to make but only managed to finish his perfect toy train. Santa arrives and looks over Elfie's work and explains just how special this one toy is.

The book has a positive message about hard work and giving your very best to any job. Elfie experiences a sense of pride and accomplishment when he looks over his finished product. He knows it is his best work and is proud of his toy train.

Sure to become a Christmas classic with its message of Christian love and Christmas spirit, The Night Before the Night Before Christmas is a perfect gift for any child.

Highly recommended for young readers and the perfect Christmas book.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. 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, November 25, 2014

So You Want To Work in Fashion? How To Break into the World of Fashion and Design
Be What You Want Series
by Patricia Wooster This Beyond Words/Aladdin edition
2014
183 pages
with notes, bibliography and helpful websites
ISBN: 9781582704524

For any teen or tween who is interested in entering the exciting world of fashion from design to modeling to styling to blogging, So You Want to Work in Fashion is THE comprehensive guide to get them started. Having read this entire set of books, I looked forward to reading and reviewing this one. Watching "Project Runway" for many seasons, my own daughter now shows an interest in the fashion world. This is the perfect book for her.

Filled with helpful tips, interviews from actual young people working in the industry, activities, and spotlights, readers will enjoy learning all the ins and outs of the industry. Being a stylist requires good accounting skills. Who knew? If you are going to be a fashion blogger, be prepared to have a real job. This one I knew! Many who make it in the world of fashion must begin as an intern or work for free. Hopefuls should take every responsibility to learn in the industry.

Many of the people interviewed for this book began as a blogger or other online persona. They found out as much as they could about fashion and then posted a look book or videos on Youtube. With the Internet at your fingertips, teens today have a voice and a built in audience.

Although the book does not teach anything about sewing, pattern making or design, the book does suggest wannabe designers take sewing lessons. Any store that sells sewing machines will usually offer beginner classes for free. You can learn the basics of sewing a hem, cutting and following a pattern, and choosing fabrics.

Teens are already working in the fashion industry as models, bloggers, vloggers, fashion designers and editors, and models. After reading this book, tweens and teens will have an idea of how to get started in the fashion industry.

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

100 Things That Make Me Happy
by Amy Schwartz
Illustrations by the author
Abrams Appleseed
2014
40 pages
9781419705182

Joyful, whimsical, fun and fresh, 100 Thing That Make Me Happy made me happy! Who doesn't remember what fun it is to slide on slippery floors? Remember the funny tickle of a puppy's wet nose and the giggles it produced? The softness of Grandma's lap and the feeling of family? The beauty of starry nights out in the open air?

This book reminded me of all the little things that children love and adults have a hard time remembering. It is nice to take a moment to cherish the little things that make life beautiful and share them with a child through this fun jaunt of rhyming couplets and miles of smiles.

100 things would seem to take a long time, but this book is over before you know it, and you will realize that time just flew by and that you were entertained and having a good time reading it. Likely, there will be a smile on your face, too!

Highly, highly recommended for young readers who will beg for this one to be read over and over again. They may want to make their own observations about things that make them smile. I'm going to go make my list now!

This book would be useful in teaching rhyme and rhyming couplets in a classroom poetry unit. Another assignment for English or creative writing class would be to have students produce their own lists of things that make them happy.

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, November 17, 2014

Thriller Pick: Black Ice

Black Ice
by Becca Fitzpatrick
Simon & Schuster BFYR
2014
392 pages
ISBN: 9781442474260

Watch the riveting book trailer

Taut, cutting, creepy and maddeningly unputdownable, Black Ice is a compelling YA thriller teens are not likely to forget! Fans of Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush series will not be disappointed. Black Ice is unlike the earlier series of books, but it's just as engrossing.

Britt Pfeiffer and her BFF ( and most of the time,  frenemy)  Korbie Versteeg are heading to Wyoming to Korbie's family's mountain getaway for a week of hiking and bonding. Korbie's older brother and best friend are joining them up at the cabin later. Britt laughs off Korbie's warnings about the disappearance of several girls in the nearby area. When the girls  are caught in a blinding  rain which soon turns to snow, the girls abandon the Jeep and hike to a nearby cabin. The cabin is inhabited by two not so friendly guys who grudgingly allow the girls to stay the night. Britt soon finds out that these guys are in trouble and hiding from the law. Now, she's determined to find an escape route for herself and Korbie. Britt is praying that Cal will find them before it's too late. He knows these mountains better than anyone, and Britt is lucky enough to have found a hand drawn map the he left behind. Using Cal's map, Britt decides to get Korbie and herself out of danger and off the mountain.

The blizzard shows no signs  of letting up. The men become increasingly dangerous and trigger happy. A gruesome discovery sets things in motion and the girls have to make their move. Mason (aka,  Jude) seems mysterious but not necessarily dangerous. Britt has to learn to trust someone but she's still waiting to be saved by old flame Cal.

Sometimes people are much more than they seem...and so much less.  As Britt struggles to save their lives, she uncovers morbid truths and a lifetime of lies.

Highly recommended grade 9 and up. Kidnapping, violence, murder, steamy kisses.

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)








Friday, November 14, 2014

Christmas Book Giveaway: The Night Before the Night Before Christmas


 
I have one copy of The Night Before The Night Before Christmas up for grabs! For your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog. Please include your name, city, state and email. One winner will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Deadline for posts is December 1 at noon MST. The winner will be notified shortly after noon MST. Please check your email on that date. The winner has 24 hours to respond to my email. Your free book will be shipped courtesy of the author.
Book Blurb:
At Santa's workshop, the night before the night before Christmas is hardly a time to rest. The elves work tirelessly to get the final toys made before Christmas Eve, but Elfie just can't keep pace. He spends too much time making his toys perfect, and when Santa comes to check on production, everyone is surprised by his reaction.

Middle Grades Pick: Loot: How To Steal a Fortune

Loot: How To Steal a Fortune
by Jude Watson
Scholastic Press
2014
272 pages
ISBN: 9780545633956

Get ready for non-stop action, great characters, mysterious bad guys, missing jewels, an old mystery,  a dead man's last words, an old curse,  a secret twin, or terrible orphanage worthy of Charles Dickens, evil conspirators, and a brother and sister who realize they're going to have to work together...like it or not.

Loot: How To Steal a Fortune is a fun adventure for middle grade readers.  March and Jules make friends at the orphanage, well...not exactly friends, but allies who help them escape.  The kids have to figure out what the father was working on and fast. They know he was going for a huge score...the biggest of his career. March has the decipher the clues from what his father left behind: a keychain, a pack of marked cards, and a list of cryptic phrases. March feels like someone is watching his every move, and maybe they are.

Jude Watson has a real winner on his hands. Loot: How To Steal a Fortune will keep readers captivated. I could not put this book down. Be ready for a read-a-thon.

Highly, highly recommended for anyone who loves action and mystery.

This book is available on the Scholastic Book Fair middle school fair. I picked up four copies for my school from the book fair.

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




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Adult Humor Pick: People I Want to Punch in the Throat

People I Want To Punch in the Throat
by Jen Mann
Ballantine Books Trade Paperbacks
2014
206 pages
ISBN: 9780345579839

Funny, bawdy, in-your-face, hysterical and manic, People I Want To Punch in the Throat is a welcome addition to chick-lit for the twenty/thirty/forty/ etc. and anyone who has ever been a mom set. Jen Mann does not take herself too seriously...herself or anyone else for that matter.

Mann makes suburban housewife drudgery comic. Referring to her kids as Gomer and Adolpha keeps their real names a  secret and it's pretty funny, too. She calls her husband Hubs and is jealous that he gets to leave the house for some alone time, but she always ends up having to take the kids with her. She yearns  to roam a grocery store all by herself without her kids having a cereal aisle meltdown or her husband taking things out of the cart in his penny pinching moves to save money.

Mann pokes fun at her neighbors and over-achieving mothers. She outs bling crafters and cupcake decorators and fashionista  moms who pick up their kids from school in designer attire. She thinks it's absolute insanity that these same moms overschedule their kids in every after school sport available and then complain about their kids' teachers who assign too much homework that interferes with their prodigy's future sports careers. It seems like every suburban family thinks they have the next Tiger Woods or Nadia. They don't seem to care to have the next Einstein or Steven Jobs. Sports, after all, is the better payday.

And the parties! These ladies throw parties for crazy reasons. There's the Half Year Birthday Party, The Almost Christmas Party, The It's a Monday Party and every kind of buy stuff you don't need party and Jen attends all of those. She is, after all, a successful realtor and needs connections to sell more houses. If she can meet fellow suburbanites, maybe she can sell them their next home.

It's no wonder, then, that these same perfect specimens pop pills "like Tic-Tacs." A few mother's little helpers and they can maintain that cool facade and keep up with the other manic overachievers.  Some will even share and trade their meds. Jen would just like a crash course to figure out which pill will make her bake awesome homemade brownies and keep her from forgetting to pick up her kids from school when they get out for a half day.

People I Want To Punch in the Face is the perfect read for laughs. Highly recommended for anyone who has ever raised a child or a husband.

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)




Pitch Perfect Pick: I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Driedel
by Caryn Yacowitz
Illustrations by David Slonim
Arthur A. Levine Books
2014
32 pages
ISBN: 9780439915304

Brilliantly imagined! This old folk song takes on a new life with Yiddish words rhymed beautifully by Caryn Yacowitz and illustrations by David Slonim that imitate great master works: "The Scream," "American Gothic," "Mona Lisa," "The Starry Night" and others.

The old lady swallows a dreidel thinking it was a bagel. She now has the problem of how to dislodge this foreign object. She tries everything: swallowing a menorah, a twenty ton brisket, gallons of sauce, mountains of latkes, buckets of oil. She thinks, "perhaps it's fatal." The family happily dances with their pet cat when they realize that the old lady will be okay after all.

The cute cat makes an appearance in every spread adding humor and sure to being smiles. The family looks on with wide eyes as the lady swallows more and more objects.

The prose is crisp, fun and new.  Yiddish words will be added to the young reader's vocabulary: dreidel, latkes, menorah,  Chanukah, gelt,  and hora.  The beautiful art not only tells the story but introduces youngsters to great master works. Parents may learn something about art, too.

Sure to become a Chanukah classic, I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel is a romping parody that will leave kids laughing and parents entertained.

Highly, highly recommended for young readers ages 2-8 and for any art teacher or art lover.

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

Monday, November 10, 2014

YA Book Giveaway and Blog Tour: The Demon Catchers of Milan: The Halcyon Bird

I have THREE copies of each book up for grabs. Three lucky winners will receive a SIGNED paperback of book one, The Demon Catchers of Milan and also a SIGNED hardcover of the NEW book: The Halcyon Bird.

See the entire blog tour

Visit the next stop on the blog

For your chance to win TWO FREE books, simply post a comment to the blog. Please be sure to include your first name, city, state and email. Deadline for posts is November 17 at noon MST. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified November 17; please be sure and check your email on that date. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York. Start posting and good luck! Pamela

Reviews of The Demon Catchers of Milan:

“Readers, like Mia herself, will find her birthright, human and supernatural—from risotto alla Milanese to the roof of the Duomo—as delicious as it is scary.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“Adding a bit of romance and adventure to the paranormal setting. . . . this original twist on demon-hunting will entice them even more. . . . a win for fans of the first book. . . . this novel could stand alone. . .”—School Library Journal
 
Praise for the first book:
Kirkus Best Books of the Year
 
The demons themselves are haunting, multifaceted creatures that are both pathetic and extremely dangerous; the evil they project is complex and pain-ridden. Fortunately Mia demonstrates a strong gift for the family trade, which, like the novel’s other elements (the food will have readers salivating), is portrayed in exquisite, affectionate detail.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
 
“For all of its supernatural premise, however, the story is also a love letter to Milan, celebrating the Italian city's food, art, and fashion, while incorporating some of its more sordid history into a chilling tale of spirits gone bad. Viewers of SyFy's Ghosthunters International will find this creepy travelogue delightfully up their alley, and readers may never look at their math homework the same way again.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
 
“A supernatural novel with a fresh premise worthy of note.”—School Library Journal
 
“This one starts off with a bang.”—Booklist
 
 
 

About The Demon Catchers of Milan #2: The Halcyon Bird

For fans of Lauren Kate and Cassandra Clare, a romance with a paranormal streak.
 
Mia has settled into her life with the Della Torres -- Milan's premier demon-catching family, accompanying them to exorcisms and even learning some way to be useful in the family trade. Then Bernardo comes into her life, handsome, well-mannered, someone who makes her forget her impossible crush on Emilio, her cousin. But always lurking in the background is the demon who possessed Mia once before, and who has not given up on possessing her again--this time for good.--from the publisher
 
 
 
 



 
About Kat Beyer
Kat Beyer has an M.A. in medieval history and has loved all things Italian for as long as she can remember. Her first novel was The Demon Catchers of Milan. She lives with her daughter in Madison, Wisconsin. Visit her online at http://www.katspaw.com/blog/

 


Friday, November 7, 2014

HIgh School Pick: 100 Sideways Miles

100 Sideways Miles
by Andrew Smith
Simon and Schuster
2014
288 pages
ISBN: 9781442444959

Witty, irreverent and just plain fun! What else do  you expect from an Andrew Smith YA title? You know you will be entertained and amazed and spellbound. 100 Sideways Miles will make you laugh and entertain you. It will cause strange reactions and could cause hysteria in some people. Don't read this novel if you have no sense of humor. Don't read this book if profanity bothers you. Just get over it. Warning: Reading Andrew Smith could cause eruptions of laughter and leave the reader with  lasting feelings of happiness which may last days or even weeks.

Finn Easton tells the story of his childhood  accident--the time a dead horse fell on him and his real mother causing her death and Finn to suffer from epilepsy. Since the accident, Finn sees the passage of time not in hours and minutes but in miles that the earth travels. Finn tells the incident and it's believable and laughable--and after I read it,  I felt a bit guilty--I couldn't  believe I just laughed at a kid's dead mother and the fact he now has epilepsy--but only a little bit guilty. That's the fun in Smith's writing and characters--you laugh at things that are not funny--but actually, they are hysterically funny.

Finn's father is a novelist whose sci-fi novel about space aliens who arrive on Earth through "Lazarus doors" in the universe and appear as angels to humans is a hit. Because the humans welcome the "angels," they don't realize the angels came to feast on humans. The book becomes so popular that some people take it too seriously and have threatened his father. Because one of the aliens happens to be a boy named Finn, the real Finn is upset. He hates that he's part of his father's novel, even though his father insists that the alien is not based on him. The real Finn feels like he's trapped inside his father's book.

Finn's best friend is an all American, tobacco chewing, baseball playing jock with a potty mouth named Cade Hernandez. Not only is Cade Hernandez physically blessed, he's smart, popular and funny. Cade  Hernandez  is a class clown whose epic antics are loved by the entire school. Finn has a bro-mance with Cade Hernandez. Cade Hernandez can get people to do nearly anything he wants just by looking at them. Finn says, "It was a look particular to Cade Hernandez--a seducer's look. It was magical and unavoidable and caused women to willingly enslave themselves to him." Finn always refers to Cade Hernandez as Cade Hernandez--it's just one of his lovable quirks.

When a pretty, new girl shows up at school,  Finn is immediately smitten with her. He won't admit to Cade that he has feelings for Julia. He knows Cade will do anything for a laugh, and he's afraid his best friend  will ruin whatever chance he has with Julia.

Readers will love the  relationship between Finn and Cade; they are closer than blood and their banter is fresh and funny. The father/son relationship between Finn and his dad is sweet and timeless. Although Finn hates his father's book, he has a deep love and regard for his father. His father's parenting style is Yoda-like "Use the Force, Finn."  He tells it like it is and doesn't skirt tough issues. If Finn asks a question, he gets a truthful answer.

There is so much to love about 100 Sideways Miles: a father/son relationship worthy of "Leave It To Beaver" but so much better, a weird sci-fi novel where aliens eat humans and humans think the aliens are angels, a dog who loves to roll in dead animals' carcasses, a road trip, a best friend--part class clown and part Greek god, a cute girl, a dead horse that falls from the sky, and best of all an epileptic boy who will touch readers' hearts.

Don't pick up 100 Sideways Miles unless you're ready to finish it in one session. Be prepared to fall in love with Finn Easton, Cade Hernandez and Andrew Smith.

Highly, highly recommended grade 9-up. A MUST READ. Language, underage drinking and partying, bad boy behavior, sex.

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, November 5, 2014

Series Pick: Atlantia

Atlantia
by Ally Condie
Dutton
2014
320 pages
ISBN: 9780525426448

Praise for Atlantia:

"A fast-paced fantasy adventure tale in a richly drawn dystopian future . . . this is a title that’s sure to be immensely popular with teens." —School Library Journal

“Utterly captivating. A heroine unlike any I’d met before, a setting I’d never glimpsed, a story I’d never imagined. Atlantia is fresh, wild, and engrossing. I love Ally Condie.” —Shannon Hale, award-winning, bestselling author of Austenland and Dangerous
My Review:

Sure to please dystopian fiction fans and readers of her Matched trilogy, Ally Condie's latest foray into world building and YA dystopian fiction features a heroine unlike any other. Readers will be fascinated with the story and engrossed by the adept storytelling. Condie has a gift of drawing the reader in--hook, line and sinker (pun intended). I was all in and hooked by the end of chapter two.

Twin sisters Bay and Rio live Below in Atlantia. At the age of fifteen, each teen decides what their future holds--whether they will live Below or go Above. After the untimely death of their mother, Rio decides to stay Below to keep her twin sister company. They are like one...after all. Rio declares  her choice to stay Below, but Bay comes next. She chooses Above. Rio is horrified and hurt. How could her sister ever leave her? Now she has no one, and she longs to leave Atlantia. She has always dreamed of going Above and seeing the stars for the first time and feeling dirt beneath her feet.

Rio begins to make plans to escape Below. It is a sure death sentence; no one ever survives. Rio's aunt Maire tries to help Rio, but Rio does not fully trust her. Maire may have had something to do with the death of her mother, and Rio won't quit until she finds answers.  When a chance to go Above presents itself, Rio takes it. She needs to see Bay again and find out why she deserted her. Will Rio find the answers she's looking for? Or will she uncover the secrets of Atlantia and her mother's death? Atlantia is in danger and no one else can save the future. Rio is called upon to save her home, but can she save Atlantia alone?

At first I thought, Oh, brother ! Not another mermaid or mer-people book! I was proven wrong. Atlantia is much more than that. Atlantia is actually an underwater city created to preserve life after the Divide. Rio and Bay and everyone in Atlantia are human--well, sort of. Atlantia seems otherworldly and beautiful--serene, almost--until the suspicious death/murder of Rio's mother who just so happens is the leader of Atlantia. When the safety of Atlantia is breached, Rio knows there's a conspiracy somewhere and makes it her business to uncover the guilty and punish them.

Highly recommended for fans of dystopian fiction and Ally Condie. Her fans won't be disappointed. Highly readable and entertaining. Readers will not want to wait for the next installment of this series.

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)