Friday, February 28, 2014

Summer Pick: The Summer of Letting Go

The Summer of Letting Go
by Gae Polisner
Algonquin Young Readers
2014
314 pages
ISBN: 9781616202569

Available March 25, 2014

From the publisher's website:

“Polisner has a keen understanding of the suffering, maturing teen psyche; Frankie’s fragility and self-doubt are heartbreaking in their realism. … First-rate realistic fiction with plenty of heart.” School Library Journal 

“The prose is gentle but evocative, and Frankie Sky’s childlike exuberance and occasional misconceptions add heart and humor…[The Summer of Letting Go is] both hopeful and careful—like Francesca herself.” Kirkus Review
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“The characters of the story are all very well drawn, the dialogue realistic, and the story itself well written, with much for teens to think and talk about.”
—VOYA

The Summer of Letting Go is haunting, heart-lifting, and impossible to put down...Francesca Schnell is one of the most authentic young adult characters I've read in a long time.” A.S. King, author of Reality Boy, Ask the Passengers & Please Ignore Vera Dietz

“A beautiful story of heartbreak and hope.” Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds and Starry Nights

The Summer of Letting Go looks like a sweet beach read, but don't let the cover confuse you. This novel isn't about bright sunshine, endless walks on the beach and idle hours frolicking in the surf. This novel is about grief and guilt, depression and agony, family and friendship, regret and redemption, and  love and forgiveness.

Frankie's brother Simon drowned four years ago, and she blames herself. She should have been watching him more closely. She should have stayed by his side. Now he's dead and she's a tangle of grief, depression and heartbreak so palpable readers will weep for her. She suspects her father is  having an illicit affair with their attractive neighbor and even follows the lady  to the country club.

There she meets a little boy named Frankie Sky who looks like he could be Simon's twin. Everything about Frankie Sky  reminds Frankie (the girl) of her brother Simon. When the boy's mother hires Frankie to babysit for him, she is worried about taking him to the pool or the beach.

Best friend Lisette is pulling away and spending more and more time with Frankie's secret crush Bradley, and Bradley keeps showing up and stealing kisses from his own girlfriend's best friend. Frankie knows she shouldn't kiss Bradley and betray her friend, but she acts with her heart not her head.

The Summer of Letting Go is a remarkable YA title. Polisner is able to create a character who is intelligent but deeply troubled. Frankie exudes grief but learns to see the world anew through the eyes of innocent Frankie Sky.

The ending seemed forced. I am not sure any girl would be as forgiving as Lisette. Her best friend and her boyfriend have been carrying on behind her back, yet she forgives all too quickly to be believable. The cover with a headless girl walking on the beach? Really, publishers, I am OVER headless bodies on covers. Show all of the girl (or boy) or don't show them at all.

Recommended grade 9-up. Possible marital affair, death, grief.

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, February 27, 2014

Girl Pick: Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake

Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake
by Julie Sternberg
Illustrations by Matthew Cordell
Amulet
2014
183 pages
ISBN: 9781419710339

Available March 18, 2014

"This is another very true-to-life story about the challenges of growing up. Julie Sternberg captures young emotions so perfectly!"  -School Library Monthly


Tween readers are in for a real treat! Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake is the third book featuring Eleanor and it's sweet.

Eleanor worries when beautiful and sophisticated Ainsley enrolls in her school. Everyone is buzzing about the new girl, and even Eleanor's best friend Pearl seems entirely taken by Ainsley.

When Eleanor is picked as the lead for the school play, she develops an overblown case of stage fright but is saved by friend Nicholas who always seems to have her back.

Girls will empathize with Eleanor as she tries to save her friendship with Pearl. Growing up is a tough time for everyone, but Eleanor manages with a little help from her friends.

Recommended grade 4-up. Quick and easy read with short chapters and easy to read font.

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, February 25, 2014

Book Club Pick: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
2014
258 pages
ISBN: 9781616203214

Available April 1, 2014

From the author's website:

“Funny, tender, and moving, it reminds us all exactly why we read and why we love.”—Starred, Library Journal

“In this sweet, uplifting homage to bookstores, Zevin perfectly captures the joy of connecting people and books . . . Filled with interesting characters, a deep knowledge of bookselling, wonderful critiques of classic titles, and very funny depictions of book clubs and author events, this will prove irresistible to book lovers everywhere.” —Booklist

“Surprisingly expansive… Zevin is a deft writer, clever and witty, and her affection for the book business is obvious.” —Publishers Weekly

“Sometimes funny, sometimes true to life and always entertaining . . . A likable literary love story about selling books and finding love.” —Kirkus Reviews

“I don’t appreciate the position I’m in with The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. I resent the skill and verve that Ms. Z. shows in this quirky, punchy novel. I don’t like that it’s so readable, so appealing. I disdain its damnable charm, its succinctness, its crisp, clear tone! AAAUGH! . . . VERDICT: This lightning fast read is super-enjoyable; hide it inside a Popular Mechanics.” —Library Journal‘s Books for Dudes blog


From the publisher's The Algonquin Reader, Volume 3, issue 1, says Zevin:

"The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, my eighth novel, is about a bookstore and a bookseller and a stolen manuscript and a girl abandoned in a poorly stocked children's section. You must already know how this is going to end--I've already told you I come from a family who believed that no child left in a bookstore ever came to any harm."

Blogger's Review:



The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is THAT book that will stick with you for years to come, nay not years,  decades to come. It is everything that a novel should be! Zevin's carefully crafted prose and dynamic word choice  is evocative of  F. Scott Fitzgerald's finest writing.

Widower A.J. Fikry owns a small book shop on Alice Island just off the coast of Cape Cod. Fikry's wife Nic died in a car accident a year prior, and he mourns her death daily. His small book shop's proceeds are slipping; summer people buy a few books but they do not have A.J.'s  refined  and somewhat pompous taste in literature.

One morning a bleary eyed, hungover  Fikry discovers he's been robbed! His priceless manuscript of Tamerlane has been filched, and his early  retirement is now out of the question. A strange but not unwelcome discovery left in the children's section of the book shop  changes Fikry's life forever.

What does it mean to love and be loved? Can a persnickety pessimist find love again? What does it take to heal a broken man?

This novel reminds readers that life is short, true friends are priceless, blessings are numbered, and when something unexpected happens, revel in happiness, and let go of  sorrows.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is about the relationship a writer has with the reader of his carefully crafted story and that  sense of fulfillment that a reader takes away from a story. Zevin's characters honor books and reading and truly commit themselves to fine writing. Any reader who loves books and lives for books will find a treasure trove of gems  in The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.

This novel will break publishing records and is likely to be around for a very long time. Rights have been sold in 20 different countries, and book stores may have trouble keeping up with demand for this title. My top three books of all time has just changed. The top three of all time are: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and Life Among Giants. If I could only read those three books for the rest of my life, it would be more than enough to keep me happy.

So highly recommended that I'm shouting it from the rooftop: Buy this book! It will change your life.
Highly, highly recommended for mature readers and adults. Adult situations. Life 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, February 24, 2014

Origami Yoda Giveaway: 10 FREE Standees Princess Labelmaker To the Rescue

I have TEN FREE standees up for grabs from the publisher! Your students will love this attention grabbing standee of the latest title in the Origami Yoda series.

Princess Labelmaker To the Rescue
by Tom Angleberger
Amulet (Abrams)
2014
208 pages
ISBN:  9781419710520

Book available March 4, 2014

for your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog. Be sure and include your first name, city, state, and email contact.  Deadline for posts is noon MST March 4, 2014. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer and notified shortly after noon on March 4. Be sure and check your email on that date. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. The standees will ship from New York.

Good luck and start posting! Pamela

Friday, February 21, 2014

Teen Pick: Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders

Fat Boy vs the Cheerleaders
by Geoff Herbach
Sourcebooks Fire
2014
320 pages
ISBN: 9781402291418

Available May 6, 2014

Geoff Herbach tells a story like no other YA author can--he tells it with outrageous humor, spot-on teen dialog, and believable snark.

Gabe Johnson is the butt (pun intended) of the whole school's jokes. They call him names, they laugh at his butt shaking dances, and jocks go out of their way to defeat him. Popular cheerleaders Janessa and Emily  take cheap shots at Gabe calling him Chunk. This band geek is about to explode, and when he does, he will enrage fellow band students to stand up to the cheerleaders and jocks.

When the funds from the coke machine are diverted from Gabe's school band to the cheerleaders for a new dance team, Gabe makes a stand...this is not just a stand. It is of epic proportions. Gabe LOVES band--and now the principal is cancelling summer band camp so the cheerleaders can have their dance team? With the help of his friends and supporters, Gabe stirs the entire school and community of small town Minnekota Lake into an uproar.

The novel is told in the form of Gabe's statement to his attorney Henry Rodriguez. Gabe finds himself needing representation after an unfortunate series of events.

The character of Gabe is believable, loveable, and he turns out to be harder than steel instead of soft as a marshmallow. This fat boy is mad and working on himself. He won't be the butt of their jokes forever, he decides. The only reason he's the center of the mean kids' wrath is that he makes himself the center of it. Gabe realizes he has more than one fight on his hands. He just needs to convince himself that he is capable of changing himself. Once his mindset has changed, the kids can't get to him anymore.

Readers who love an underdog will love Gabe and his journey to become a winner. They will be rooting for him and his cause.

Highly recommended grade 9-up. Language. Mature situations. On-line bullying.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this 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, February 19, 2014

Teen Pick: To All the Boys I've Loved Before

To All the Boys I've Loved Before
by Jenny Han
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2014
368 pages
ISBN: 9781442426702

Available April 22, 2014

From the author's website:

"Lara Jean's personality--goofy, awkward, prone to strong emotions, and entirely naïve when it comes to boys give this touching story an individuality and charm all its own." --Publishers Weekly, starred review.

"An ultimately compelling exploration of teenage growth and young love." --Kirkus Reviews


Meet Lara Jean Song (Covey). She's opinionated, articulate, sweet, and smart. She is the most real YA character most of us will ever meet. Han does a fantastic job of fleshing out Lara's character, her hopes and dreams, her fears and shortcomings.

When older sister Margot goes off to college in Scotland, Lara Jean becomes in charge of the household. It is up to her to make sure younger sister Kitty gets her lunch and gets to bed on time and that Dad gets his coffee just like her likes it. Next door neighbor Josh continues to be part of their family even though Margot broke up with him before leaving for Scotland.

Lara Jean keeps a decorative hat box with her love letters inside. Each letter is to a different boy and is a break up letter, a good-bye to romance letter. She never intended sending them; they were for her eyes only. She thought if she put her feelings on paper, she would get rid of her feelings for each boy.


A mistake is made and Lara Jean's love letters are sent to each boy. She is mortified! How will she do damage control? And what will happen when each boy realizes that Lara Jean had feelings for him? 

Lara Jean makes mistakes and doesn't know how she is supposed to act in many situations,  and in situations where she has to deal with  boys, she's positively clueless. Girls who love romance and innocence will appreciate To All the Boys I've Loved Before. 

Recommended grade 9-up. Mature situations, underage drinking.

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, February 18, 2014

New Series Pick: Mouseheart

Mouseheart
(book one)
by Lisa Fiedler
Illustrations by Vivienne To
Margaret K. McElderry Books
2014
336 pages
ISBN: 9781442487819

Available May 20, 2014

check out the online game beginning May 1

Captivating and cunning, Mouseheart is the next great adventure.

Pet shop mouse Hopper lives in a cage in a Brooklyn shop with sister Pinkie and brother Pup. Hopper vaguely remembers his mother. He knows that before she was yanked away from them, she told him, "Find the Mews." Hopper waits every day hoping that his mother will return, but she never does. When a boy visits the shop with his snake, Hopper realizes that they must escape the shop to freedom.

The next chance they get, they escape the cage, but Pup falls on the floor and Hopper loses Pinkie. He is rescued in the subway by a rat named Zucker. Zucker takes Hopper to Atlantia far below the city. When they enter the palace, Hopper is flabbergasted to learn that his companion is the prince of Atlantia. Zucker's father, Emperor Titus allows Hopper to stay in the palace with Zucker; Titus sees some hidden talent he can exploit.

Hopper wonders who the Mus are, and when he asks his friend, Zucker replies that the Mus are the enemy who hope to defeat Atlantia. Hopper can't believe it! He saw a poster in the subway tunnel of Dodger, the leader of the Mus; he looks like a mirror image of Hopper right down to the white circle of fur around his eye. Hopper misses his family and longs to see Pinkie and Pup again. Zucker promises that his army will search for them.

There is a war going on between the rats and the mice. The cats have a strange alliance with the rats of Romanus, and Hopper soon finds out the macabre details. He realizes that the refugee camps are a holding tank for the cats' next feeding.

Readers will love Hopper's quiet bravery and inner commando. He has more heart than he realizes, and it is up to him to save his own kind and reunite his family. With a little help from his friends, Hopper takes on the enemy army.

Mouseheart is the first in the series which promises to deliver grand adventure and great storytelling. Hopper is one little mouse who roars! Readers who loved Jacques'  Redwall series and Hunter's Warrior series will love this new series.

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, February 17, 2014

Young Reader Pick: Clara and Davie

Clara and Davie: The True Story of Young Clara Barton
by Patricia Polacco
Illustrations by the author
Scholastic Press
2014
40 pages
ISBN: 9780545354776

Beautifully rendered illustrations from Patricia Polacco  tell the poignant story of the early years  of Clara Barton's life. It is a story close to Polacco's heart and part of her family tree.

One Christmas Day 1821, a baby girl was born in Oxford, Massachusetts. The baby was named Clarissa, but brother Davie said she should be named Clara and the name stuck from that moment forward. Childbirth and illness took its toll on Clara's mother. Davie became Clara's constant companion and best friend. Clara had a  gentle nature and kind heart, and Davie  gave a newborn puppy to her to raise.

Kids at school made fun of Clara's lisp, so Davie made sure that Clara could be home schooled. She learned every flower and plant and loved all animals. When a boy breaks his leg, Clara sets it; after that,  farmers turned to Clara for help with their sick animals.

Davie breaks his leg in a fall, but Clara takes care of him until the doctor arrives. Davie heals slowly but is afraid to try to walk. Clara begs him to try each day to no avail. Clara can take it no longer. She runs to the barn and cries; later, Davie stands at the door of the barn with a bouquet of wild flowers. He walked all that way all by himself; it was the first day he walked again.

Clara Barton became one of the most famous women in American history. Known as "the Angel of the Battlefield" during the Civil War, she later founded the American Red Cross.

Readers will love Clara's humanity for all creatures. She stands for goodness and care.

Highly recommended for young readers who love animals. Polacco fans will not be disappointed.

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)



Friday, February 14, 2014

Adult Thriller: Wendell Black, MD

Wendell Black, MD
by Gerald Imber
Bourban Street Books/HarperCollins Publisher
2014
416 pages
ISBN: 9780062246851

Praise from the publisher's web site:

“Wendell Black, a middle-aged police surgeon for the NYPD, evolves into an action hero reminiscent of John McClane, Bruce Willis’s character in the Die Hard series, in plastic surgeon Imber’s well-written first novel.”
Publishers Weekly
       
“A high-stakes debut…. The scenes are filled with clever language and rich descriptions…. A heck of a story, with a hero who deserves a series of books.”
Kirkus Reviews
 
 
Fiercely crafted prose and an exciting premise will have readers racing to finish this  intriguing novel. Readers will struggle to  figure out who the good guys are and who the bad guys really are.
 
Wendell Black is a doctor who works for the New York Police Department. He does a little of everything--he stops by and makes hospital rounds to see how wounded or sick cops are doing, he sees sick police officers and places them on sick leave or gives them the  green light for duty. On a flight back to New York, Dr. Black is called upon to revive an unconscious passenger. He fights for her life, but the woman cannot be resuscitated. The police are called in when the body is taken into custody at the Medical Examiner's office. They find that the  passenger is not a female after all but a man who has had a recent breast implant operation. The implants are not normal; they are filled with heroin. The narcotics investigators call in Dr. Black for an interview.

This is no ordinary drug case; Alice Sheppard,  Black's "girlfriend" and co-worker  introduces him to a doctor she met in London--Farzan Byarshan. Byarshan tells Black that he suspects the dead passenger was a mule for a terrorist sect. When Dr. Black takes this  theory to the police, they don't buy it. Narrowly escaping an attempt on his life, Black suddenly has all sorts of company:  MI-6, the feds and Homeland Security and New York's finest  jump into the fray.

 Alice suddenly vanishes after the murder of Byarshan, and  police suspect her. They question Dr. Black again, but he denies knowing Alice's whereabouts.

Imber uses his knowledge of police work and his years working in medicine to create a believable story that will instill fear in the minds of all readers. The smuggling ring and the bio-terrorism threat are possible and plausible  in a post 9/11 world.

Readers who enjoy police/detective novels by writers Ed McBain and Elmore Leonard will love Imber's new hero Wendell Black. Here is hoping that Wendell Black will appear in  a series.

Highly recommended for adult readers and mature high school readers. 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 ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Book Giveaway: Welcome to Dog Beach

Welcome to Dog Beach (Seagate Summers series)
by Lisa Greenwald
Amulet
2014
272 pages

Lisa Greenwald's earlier books include Sweet Treats and Secret Crushes, the Pink and Green series and Reel Life Starring Us.


About the book
Eleven-year-old Remy loves Seagate, the island where her grandmother had a house and where her family spends every summer vacation. But this year’s different. Remy misses her dog, Danish, who recently passed away. The usual Seagate traditions don’t feel the same—and neither does her relationship with her two best friends, Micayla and Bennett. Micayla’s family is moving to Seagate year-round, and she’s spending more time with the year-round kids. Bennett’s doing “boy stuff” with new kid Calvin and his snobby sister Claire. Remy takes comfort in the company of Dog Beach—which is where she hatches her plan to bring her friends closer and recapture the Seagate magic. This start of a new series is filled with summer treats, activities, and the spirit of friendship and invention that are Greenwald’s trademarks.

Praise for Welcome to Dog Beach
"Remy’s quiet tale of change and growth marks a promising start to a new series."
 
I have 5 FREE copies of the ARC up for grabs! For your chance to win and read the book first, simply post a comment to the blog and be sure and include your first name, city, state and email contact. Deadline for posts is Thursday, February 27 at noon MST. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will receive an email from me shortly after 12:00 noon MST on February 27. 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. Good luck and start posting! Pamela
 
 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Giveaway: Time Out of Time

Time Out of Time
by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

Available March 25, 2014

From the publisher's website:

About the book
Beyond the Door, the first in the Time Out of Time duet from Maureen Doyle McQuerry, weaves a compelling coming-of-age story with fantasy and mythology. With his love of learning and the game of Scrabble, Timothy James feels like the only person who understands him is his older sister, Sarah, and he’s fairly certain nothing interesting will ever happen to him. But one night, while his parents and sister are away, the door opens, and mythical creatures appear in his own living room! Soon, a mystery of unparalleled proportions begins to unfold, revealing an age-old battle of Light against Dark, and Timothy must embark on a quest to prevent the Dark from controlling the future and changing the past. But he can’t complete the quest alone. Timothy has to team up with his sister and the school bully, Jessica, to face an ancient evil, and in the process, this unlikely trio discover they are each more than meets the eye.

Praise for Time Out of Time
"McQuerry smoothly blends adventure, coming-of-age, and mystery with a mythological world where special academic and problem-solving talents are required assets rather than nerd-bait for bullies. The characters are charming, and the quirky, supernatural good guys are compassionate and forgiving."
--VOYA

"
A promising start to a fantasy series mines the rich ore of Celtic mythology and propels a young boy into cosmic battle."
--Kirkus Reviews

I have 5 FREE copies of the ARC (Advance Reader Copy) up for grabs. For your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog and be sure and include first name, city, state and email contact. Deadling for posts is Monday, March 3, 2014 at noon MST. Winners will be chosen by Randomizer and notified shortly after 12:00 p.m. MST on March 3. Please be sure and check your email that day. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York. Be the first to read Time Out of Time! Good luck and start posting!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Giveaway: TTYL (re-issue 10th Anniversary)

I have THREE finished copies of the re-issue of TTYL up for grabs. This is the tenth anniversary of Lauren Myracle's hit book that started the series. visit the publisher's website

From the publishers' website:

About the book
It’s time for a new generation of readers to discover the phenomenally bestselling and beloved series, told entirely in messages and texts. With a fresh look and updated cultural references, the notorious list-topping series is ready for the iPhone generation.
First published in 2004 (holy moly!), ttyl and its sequels follow the ups and downs of high school for the winsome threesome, three very different but very close friends: wild Maddie (mad maddie), bubbly Angela (SnowAngel), and reserved Zoe (zoegirl). Through teacher crushes, cross-country moves, bossy Queen Bees, incriminating party pics, and other bumps along the way, author Lauren Myracle explores the many potholes of teenagedom with the unflinching honesty and pitch-perfect humor that made this series a staple of young adult literature.
For your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog. Please include first name, city, state, and email address. Deadline for posts is noon MST February 20. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified in the afternoon of February 20 and have 24 hours to respond to my email. 

Good luck and start posting!

Fantasy Pick: What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World

What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World
by Henry Clark
Illustrations by Jeremy Holms
Little, Brown and Company
2013
355 pages
ISBN: 9780316206662

Clever, quirky, and classic, What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World is a gem of a book!This is wild and wacky adventure at its finest. From a talking domino to a nutty neighbor and a sofa from outer space, Henry Clark's madcap novel will captivate and entertain readers.

When friends Fiona, Freak and River find a rare zucchini colored crayon in an abandoned sofa by their school  bus stop, their adventure begins. Fiona does some research and finds out the rare crayon was manufactured in 1944 and is worth thousands to the right bidder. She puts the crayon in an online auction, and the bidding gets to $7000.00 right away. The kids can't believe their good luck, but then they realize that the sofa may belong to the old guy who lives in the Underhill place. They decide to tell the rightful owner about the crayon.

They discover from a voice at the gate that Old Man Underhill has died and that the new neighbor's name is Alf and he's interested in that crayon and in meeting them. He tells the kids an outlandish tale of a billionaire inventor who has destroyed  the middle of their town turning it into  a cesspool of smoky ashes. Now Edward Disin is after their crayon. He has a strange disorder that makes it impossible for him to have an incomplete collection of anything. Compulsive Completist Disorder, or CCD, is the inability to tolerate incomplete collections. Disin cannot do anything until he gets the one crayon he is missing from his 1944 Victory Garden crayon box--the zucchini colored crayon.

Alf plans to invite collectors to an auction at the Underhill house and capture the elusive billionaire, turning him over to the authorities, and he wants the kids to help. The kids get themselves into a number of sticky situations and somehow find their way out of them with spunk and wry wit.

Laugh out loud comedic dialog jumps off the pages! This is comedy done just right. Think Lemony Snicket with high comedy and clever charm.

Highly, highly recommended grades 5-up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for the 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)


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Spy Pick: Also Known As


Also Known As
by Robin Benway
Walker Books
2013
308 pages
ISBN: 9780802733900

From the first sentence, "I cracked my first lock when I was three," readers will be captivated  and taken for an entertaining ride. Maggie Silver has always been a spy; it's in her blood. Maggie and her parents work for the Collective, a secret international spy ring that  rights corporate wrongs and takes down evil, corrupt  government bullies.

Maggie's latest assignment takes her family to New York City and to a prestigious private school. Maggie is to infiltrate high school and befriend Jesse Oliver, the son of a magazine editor. Armand Oliver is planning to run a story on the Collective and "name names"--putting every spy in the Collective in danger. Maggie must get in close with Jesse, hack into his father's computer, and destroy the files about the Collective--all this, and still pass Chemistry and French classes!

Readers will love Maggie: she  is funny, ironic, sardonic and sarcastic; she is also amazingly adept at the hyperbolic statement. Getting ready for her first day, Maggie pumps herself up by telling herself, "You could eat these kids for breakfast. You won't, though, because that would be cannibalistic and wrong."

When Maggie befriends former mean girl Roux, they become fast, albeit awkward, friends. Roux fills Maggie in on Jesse's personality and history. Sparks fly when Maggie finally meets Jesse. He is so different than what she expected. She actually likes him! Readers will like Jesse, too. He is that guy that girls will swoon over. Charming, awkward, unsure of himself in social situations, but oh, so handsome, Jesse is the perfect crush-worthy male lead.

Beautiful, eye-catching cover art is appealing and smart. The pink letters A,K,A stand out on the green background and barely visible words become distinguishable when the light catches the cover.  The words on the book: Mole, Espionage, Emissary, Detective, Sleuth, Undercover, Informant, Spy, and Double Agent are "hidden" on the cover. I love the play of the title Also Known As and then those hidden words because a spy happens to be all of those things. The publisher reveals  an adept hand in packaging for the teen market.

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. Readers who love a great spy book will love Also Known As.

 Some not so "bad" words: sh#& and as#. Roux jokes about drinking and does in fact get hammered at a party, but Maggie and Jessie make sure she gets home safely, and they don't imbibe. No sex, a few kisses.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for the 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)




Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Teen Pick: 45 Pounds (More or Less)

45 Pounds (More or Less)
by K.A. Barson
Viking
2013
256 pages
ISBN: 9780670784820

"You'll love this book so much that you'll wish you had a friend like Ann." --Cynthia Leitich Smith, New York Times bestselling author

Poignant and savvy, 45 Pounds (More or Less) will tug at the  heartstrings. Sixteen year old Ann Galardi's life revolves around food, so much so that she is now wearing size 17 and some of those clothes are starting to feel pretty snug. Picture perfect size 6 Mom is constantly fighting with Ann over food choices.

Ann hates her weight, and she hates arguing about it and her mother's constant harping and veiled looks when Ann puts even  a bite of food in her mouth. Ann decides to take action when her Aunt Jackie announces plans for her upcoming wedding. Ann wants to lost weight to look nice for the wedding.

Armed with her debit card and a new resolve Ann orders a diet plan from an Infomercial. She eats the tasteless, unappealing food and soon sees the pounds dropping off. When she gets hired  at The Twisted Pretzel, a food court pretzel eatery, Ann has to  fight her demons. She will not eat pretzels or anything else from the food court.

Weeks pass and Ann continues to lose weight. People start to notice, too. Ann is on cloud nine when a cute guy stops by the pretzel shop and flirts with her. Later, she finds out he is her co-worker's cousin.

Family life is tense at home when Ann's stepfather's mother spends the night. Meal time is always tense with Ann's mother and little sister constantly fighting over food. Libby doesn't like to eat what is served to her, and Ann's mother tries forcing her to eat. Eating issues plague this family and the reader begins to see what drives Ann to find solace in food.

Highly, highly recommended for anyone who has ever been on a diet and anyone who loves a slightly flawed character who is not a size 0. Ann has spunk and charm--she is no quitter and no pushover. This is a real character who will resonate with teens.

Grade 7 and up with this warning: Ann's father cheated on her mother and she divorced him. Also, Ann's Aunt Jackie is a lesbian and marrying a woman. The publisher says age 12 and up. Depending on your community, this book may be high school level only. No language, no sex.

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 ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)