Monday, March 31, 2014

YA Pick: #16thingsIthoughtweretrue

by Janet Gurtler
Sourcebooks Fire
304 pages
ISSBN: 9781402277979

Sensitive and engrossing, #16thingsithoughtweretrue portrays a girl caught up in the Twitterverse  who chooses to have online friends and live life with her Internet buddies. When co-workers and soon to be friends Adam and Amy point out that they are real and present and the people online are not present and do not "know" Morgan, she disagrees. She would rather bask in the glory of 5,000 followers than work at a relationship with real people.

When her mom drops a family secret bombshell at the hospital, Morgan realizes that she has a chance to meet the father she never knew. She gets his address in Canada and plans to travel to his house and confront him. Amy offers to drive and Adam offers to come along for the road trip. The three set off on a road trip where they find out that they share some wishes and dreams.

Morgan meets her father who is dumbstruck that he ever had a daughter; he didn't even know she existed as Morgan's mom never told him that she was pregnant eighteen years ago. She never wrote him or called him to tell him that he had a daughter. Now Morgan directs her anger back to her mother. All these years, she thought her dad had abandoned her, but now she finds out, he never knew about her.

Amy shares a troubling secret and Adam and Morgan get closer. Be ready for a tear-jerker ending. Have your box of tissues ready.

Recommended grade 9-up. Mature subject matter.

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

Friday, March 28, 2014

Gothic Pick: Her Dark Curiosity

Her Dark Curiosity
by Megan Shepherd
Balzar + Bray
420 pages
ISBN: 9780062128058

Her Dark Curiosity is a sublime retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is compelling and hypnotic, rife with Gothic lore and brutal rage. Juliet Moreau is a complex individual, not a mere pawn of men but an intelligent strategist who outplays  the brightest minds of her day.

Having escaped her father's creepy island and its beasts (The Madman's Daughter,  Juliet is now back in London, but her sickness is getting worse and she fears that if she doesn't find a cure soon, she may die. She pines for lost love Montgomery who set her adrift at sea and she dreams of seeing him again.

She is living with a kind guardian who is an old friend of her father when she hears news that a murderer is on the loose. Four murders have occurred and as Juliet digs deeper, she realizes she knew all four victims personally. Someone is murdering those individuals who have wronged Juliet, and she's afraid of the truth. Could Edward Prince have escaped the island? Is he living and killing for her  in London?

Who was Juliet's father writing in London? Juliet needs to find out who has been funding her father's research. She finds herself helping a murderer, but she also  knows his humanity and kindness. Her heart is torn between two men, and she is struggling to solve the many mysteries of her father's macabre and twisted legacy.

Readers will empathize with Juliet, a girl with no family and no future. She has little opportunity for a wonderful life. Because of the sins of her father, her family name is considered a crime against humanity.

Beautiful cover art promises a Gothic romance. The young girl in a flowing gown seems sad and brooding. The gray sky and stone bridge also feel foreboding and Gothic. Red letters of the title stand out like blood against the sky. This is one of the most beautiful covers in YA fiction in recent memory. Her Dark Curiosity is a brilliant second offering of the reworked classic tale.

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up with this caution: Juliet does sleep with Edward and he worries that she may "be with child," but no graphic details are mentioned. No profanity. Some gore.

FTC Required Disclaimer; I purchased this book for my 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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book Giveaway and Blog Tour: Rose and the Lost Princess

Rose and the Lost Princess
by Holly Webb
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

I have ONE copy of this fab new read by Holly Webb. For your chance to win, post a comment on this blog. Please include first name, city, state and email contact. The winner will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Deadline for posts is Tuesday, April 15 at noon MST. The winner will be notified on that date; please check your email shortly after noon MST on April 15. The winner has 24 hours to contact me. The publisher will ship to Canada and U.S. addresses. Good luck and start posting! Book giveaway now OPEN.

Join the blog tour:

Tu April 1 Bonnie Wagner A Backwards Story
Wed April 2 Heidi Grange Geo Librarian
Th April 3 Suzanne Costner The Fairview Review
Fri April 4 Pamela Thompson YA Books - What We're Reading Now
Sat April 5 Kristen Harvey The Book Monsters
Sun April 6 Jessica Nottingham Hopeless Bibliophile

Mon April 7 Stephanie Turner Cover 2 Cover Blog
Tues April 8 Sharon Schmidt Tyler Sharon the Librarian
Wed April 9 Dena Batch of Books
Th April 10 Aeicha Word Spelunking
Fri April 11 Kelly Hager Kelly Vision
Sat April 12 Karen Nelson Central MN Mom
Sun April 13 Sarit Coffe & Books & Art

Mon April 14 Sara Grochowski The Hiding Spot
Tues April 15 Deborah Debz Bookshelf
Wed April 16 Tiffany Erickson Miss Tiff Reads
Th April 17 Teri Crosby Snarky Mamma
Fri April 18 Lory Widmer Emerald City Book Review
Sat April 19 Debbie Alvarez The Styling Librarian
Sun April 20 Erin Al-Mehairi Hook of a Book

Mon April 21 Orsayor Young-Simmons Book Referees
Tues April 22 Megan T Inspired by Fiction
Wed April 23 Kyra Morris Blog of a Bookaholic
Th April 24 Jenny Wondrous Reads
Fri April 25 Tanya Johnson Tanya's Book Nook
Sat April 26 Pam Torres Madison and Cooper's Blog
Sun April 27 Allie In Bed With Books

Mon April 28 Erin PreFontaine Jump Into Books
Tues April 29 Amanda One Momma Saving Money
Wed April 30 Natalie Literary Rambles
Th May 1 Hope Clippinger Hope to Read
Fri May 2 Ashley P. Tales of Mommyhood
Saturday May 3 Marcie Turner To Read or Not To Read
Sunday May 4 Rubina Ramesh The Book Club - Rubina Ramesh

Mon May 5 Sheila Ruth Wands and Worlds

From the Publisher:

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN: 9781402285844; April 1,2014; $6.99; U.S.; Juvenile Fiction/Independent Reader; Trade Paper
About Rose and the Lost Princess: Rose’s whole life has changed in a matter of weeks. She’s gone from being a lonely orphan to a magician’s apprentice, though she’s learned that power comes at a price. Even Rose’s friends don’t seem to trust her anymore, especially when rumors of dark magic begin to swirl through the city.
Then the country’s beloved princess vanishes, and the king asks Rose for her help. She must find the missing princess and put a stop to the evil magician behind the kidnapping… before all is lost.
About the Author: Holly was born and grew up in southeast London but spent a lot of time on the Suffolk coast. As a child, she had two dogs, a cat, and at one point, nine gerbils (an accident). At about ten, Holly fell in love with stories from Ancient Greek myths, which led to studying university. She worked for five years as a children’s fiction editor before deciding that writing was more fun and easier to do from a sofa. Now living in Reading with her husband, three sons, and two cats, Holly runs a Guide unit. The Rose books stem from a childhood love of historical novels and the wish that animals really could talk.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Early Pick: La Gallina Grande/Big Fat Hen

La Gallina Grande
Big Fat Hen
by Keith Baker
Translated by Carlos E. Calvo
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
30 pages
ISBN: 9780544173989

Pre-K, Kinder board book

Charming and endearing, La Gallina Grande/Big Fat Hen will delight young readers. The colorful cover depicts a mother hen on her nest awaiting the arrival  of her hatchlings. Ten yellow chicks hatch and fill the pages of the book while readers learn to count to ten in both English and Spanish. The Big Fat Hen and her friends--mother hens--watch as their babies hatch and play together.

The book was copyrighted in 1994 in English but this board book with the Spanish translation is available April 15, 2014.

Highly recommended for beginning readers and children learning Spanish or English.

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

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

YA Pick: Independent Study

Independent Study (The Testing trilogy, book 2)
by Joelle Charbonneau
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
310 pages
ISBN: 9780547959207

Riveting and dark, yet deeply satisfying, fans of The Hunger Games will love Joelle  Charbonneau's exciting  trilogy.

Cia has completed her studies and now faces examination day which will determine what branch of government  she is selected for. Her memory has been erased but she sometimes has brief inklings of a piece of a puzzle that seems to be memory. She knows if Dr. Barnes suspects she remembers the past year, she will face punishment and death.

When she aces her test, she is assigned to the Government where students study to become leaders and law makers. Cia is disappointed because she longed for Engineering, and she fears for a fellow student who has failed his test. Cia follows Obidiah and two officials to the Administration building where her worst fears are now confirmed. Dr. Barnes does not trust ex-students to return to their towns; he makes them "disappear." Cia realizes that it can happen to any student...even her. She makes plans to run for it, but is stopped by Michal, the guide who first brought her to the school. He tells her news of a secret plan to oust Dr. Barnes, and Cia agrees to remain at school and keep her eyes and ears open.

The next part of training is tough. Cia has to compete against the Tosu students who have an unfair advantage. Students are given harder and harder tasks and tests; their progress is measured by the eyes of the trainers and Dr. Barnes. Cia knows that failure is not an option. Students are in a competition for their future and their lives, and it doesn't get more serious than that.

Cia is intelligent, well-prepared, and quick-witted. She makes instant decisions that save her life, and she trusts her instincts. She remembers not to trust anyone, but it is hard to make friends with others when she can't trust them.  Can she trust Tomas, a boy from her Five Lakes community? Or will Cia find a new friendship with a student from Tosu?

The government put the testing in place to discover and develop its future leaders, engineers, doctors, teachers, scientists and problem solvers. What has become of such high ideals and hopes? A program that is unseen and unchecked by the government run by one man who will go to any lengths to remain in power and unchecked. The perfect situation for a coup is brewing, and Cia is right in the middle of the action.

This is one YA trilogy that rocks!

Highly recommended grade 7-up. Some kissing. No profanity. Violence. Death.

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

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

YA Pick: The Outside

The Outside
by Laura Bickle
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
313 pages
ISBN: 9780544000131

Read an excerpt

From the author's website:

Advance Praise for THE OUTSIDE:
* “Top-notch. . . . A horror story with heart and soul.”
Kirkus, starred review

“At once horrifying, hopeful, and hauntingly beautiful, this gorgeous read with its rich textures and spine-tingling suspense kept me glued to the pages in utter fascination. Laura Bickle is a master storyteller.”
 -Darynda Jones, NY Times Bestselling author of The Darklight Series

What other YA authors say (from the book's back cover):

"This is a book to make you fear the shadows--a horrifying and gruesome tale of faith, and things that blink red eyes in the night...I could not look away!" --Lauren DeStefano, author the Chemical Garden trilogy

"What an eerily believable, unique story! I can't stop thinking about it--or shivering." --MelissaMarr, New York Times best-selling author of the Wicked Lovely books

No one has ever told a zombie story with so much heart. Bickle balances Katie's firm religious beliefs with the all enveloping  terror unfolding around her. God seems to have no place in this terrible new world.

Katie is on the run with Alex, a boy she saved by taking him inside her Amish community. Now they are both exiled along with Ginger, a lady from the outside who happened to be visiting the community. The three of them are headed toward Canada and away from the danger of zombie attack. They meet a friendly wolf/dog mix who accompanies them on their journey feeding them the prey he is able to catch.  Alex names the dog Fenrir. Fenrir helps keep them safe and alerts them of danger.

The Hexenmeister gave Katie protection in the form of a Himmelsbrief and Alex has tattoos that protect him from zombies, but they still have to fight them to remain alive.  They become a fearsome zombie fighting team when necessary but it's better for them to travel in the daytime and find safety before nightfall. Along the way, they camp in churches and religious buildings in the hope that zombies cannot enter hallowed ground.

As they near Canada, they meet a group of strangers who seem to glow. A scientist near Lake Erie has developed a "vaccine" that causes humans to glow. This glow confuses the zombies and they fear it. Alex takes the vaccine and becomes ill.

If this vaccine is used on everyone, will they defeat the Darkness? Will  the world be saved? Will Katie ever go home to her community? Will her parents ever forgive her? Will people believe that  the vaccine is the answer?

Katie and Alex are the perfect YA couple on the run. There is romance but no time to develop passion, what with running from zombies and saving the world and all. Katie's belief system is put to the test when she is forced to kill or be killed. They have to "steal" from stores and homes along their route and Katie has trouble balancing her religious beliefs against the belief in survival but survival wins out. Her moral compass remains devoutly religious but the more trouble and strife she endures, the more worldly she becomes. Her struggle to believe in a God that would allow true evil in the world is palpable.

Cover art captures the somber tone of much of the book. A shell shocked Katie travels down a littered path followed by a dark, shadowy figure as black birds circle the gray skies overhead. A ramshackle building by the road stands forlorn and abandoned.  A faint golden glow surrounds Katie as she holds her Himmelsbrief to her heart. The artistic cover will beckon readers and  the well crafted plot will hold them captive.

Words cannot explain how much I loved this book. It is truly magnificent and novel. The idea of a young Amish girl as protagonist in a zombie book is genius!

Highly recommended grade 9-up. Book one, The Hallowed Ones, had no nudity or sex. The Outside has a co-ed shower scene, a sleepover, and  nudity although each scene is not explicit I have The Hallowed Ones in our grade 6-8 library, but I'm sending The Outside to the high school.

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

Monday, March 3, 2014

Young Reader Pick: Superworm

by Julia Donaldson
Illustrations Axel Scheffler
Arthur A. Levine Books
32 pages
ISBN: 9780545591768
Available: March 1, 2014
From the author's  website:
Winner of the German Buxterhuder Kälbchen Picture Book Prize 2013

“The energetic worm will keep audiences squirming with pleasure” The Observer
“At their silliest best” The Daily Telegraph
“Very funny, very inventive” A N Wilson for Readers Digest
“Riotous rhyme and glorious illustration” Daily Mail

Superworm is a captivating and fun read for all ages. Children are sure to giggle over Superworm's antics as he uses his body in inventive ways to rescue frog--he becomes a lasso, to play with bees, he becomes a jump rope, he saves beetle by becoming a fishing line. The animals love Superworm.

Lizard wants Superworm to find treasure in the soil, so he sends Crow to kidnap Superworm. The animals band together and make a plan to find Superworm and free him from Lizard. Everyone rejoices when their friend Superworm returns home.

A worm as a main character in a children's book is genius! Superworm will make readers rethink their views on the lowly worm. Colorful illustrations bring the animals to life and help show their personalities. Crow appears evil and devious while the frogs and bees stare aghast as Crow carries away a frightened Superworm.

Highly recommended for young readers.

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