Thursday, October 30, 2014

Foodie Pick: Guy on Fire: 130 Recipes for Adventures in Outdoor Cooking

Guy On Fire: 130 Recipes for Adventures in Outdoor Cooking
by Guy Fieri and Ann Volkwein
William Morrow
2014
342 pages with index
ISBN: 9780062244710

Foodie fun for wannabe and gonna-be chefs! Rock star chef and megawatt personality Guy Fieri keeps it real and that's what viewers of Food Network love about him. His full on fun personality, wit, wisdom and Guy-isms: "off the hook," "that's money!" "That's the real deal," "off the chain," and a ga-zillion other ways to describe food keep viewers watching, young chefs dreaming, and the public hungry to buy his cookbooks.

Guy on Fire is sure to please even the most skeptical outdoor cooking enthusiast. Fieri loves to cook outside, but unlike the ordinary back yard griller, Guy throws extreme  tailgate bashes and participates in serious "que" contests. Everything he does, he does with passion and brilliance. Fieri includes a Master Tool and Equipment List which is comprised of everything any outdoor chef would need including a wine opener, cast iron Dutch oven, a  hatchet, basting brushes, and multiple cutting boards--different colors for each meat--and no wood boards (due to contamination of cooked and raw meats and wood contaminates easily).

Pages are lively and nearly  edible. "Guy's Straight-Up Burgers with a Pig Patty and Donkey Sauce" are sure to jump start taste buds--a burger made from bacon?! Sounds like heaven wrapped up in rainbows and glitter! Every recipe comes not only with ingredients and instructions, but Fieri adds helpful prep tips that will save time. Fieri adds a brief  note to most recipes or tells a funny "Guy"  story--fans of his will find this cookbook a great addition to their kitchen.

Tailgating used to mean ingesting overcooked  brats, boring  hot dogs and soggy burgers, but not in Fieri's extreme tailgating world. It's go big or go home. Who knew Bacon-Wrapped Scallops Glazed with Maple Butter was even a possibility in a parking lot? Fieri lists supplies needed for a successful tailgating event: trash bags, paper towels, wet towels, two ice chests--one for food and drink and the other just for clean ice. How many tailgaters out there put this much thought into an ice chest just for ice?

Photos of recipes are always expected in a successful  cookbook, but Fieri also includes family photos of backyard BBQs and parties, tailgates and contests. Illustrations by Joe Leonard capture the fun mood and party vibe.

Guy on Fire make the perfect gift for that cookbook collector or foodie fan. Anyone who loves to grill, camp or tailgate would like this book as a gift.

Highly recommended for cooking fans of all ages.

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, October 28, 2014

Why I Blog and Is There a Disconnect Between Award Books and What Teens Want To Read?


I've been pondering the disconnect between award books, what parents and teachers want kids to read, what publishers think are "good" books, what is being published and promoted and what teens actually want to read or will read.
 
 
Recently, I attended  a presentation for young adult books and I have to say, the presenter gave the most attention to those books that are "well-written" and probably not noticed by teens. While certainly teens need to read award worthy books, do they WANT to read them? Will they enjoy them? Would they pick up an award winning book if it wasn't part of an assignment or a grade or a college requirement?
 
When I browse the teen section at B & N, I know instantaneously which covers will appeal to the most teens. Then I pick up the book and look at it more closely. I also watch teens in their own habitat (browsing books). I study their book choice behavior. It tells me a lot about what teen readers/browsers will pick up. If the book has a medal on the front of it, it is rarely even considered. In fact, it is shunned by most.
 
When I read a book, I approach it as a teen or my teenage self (yes, we all have that teen self inside of us still. Just like we all have a "Disney side.") I know that sounds weird, but what do you think an actor does? An actor is not herself/himself in a role, an actor becomes the character.
 
When reading YA,  I  suspend my age, experience, and age prejudices (I try), when I read, becoming my naïve fifteen year old self of yesteryear....I am in the book and one with the character. If it can keep my make believe fifteen year old self interested, entertained, happy, and excited, then I know teen readers will love the book, hopefully as much as I did. There is nothing more exciting than having a reader come back to the library and tell me, "Wow! You were right about this book! It was amazing! Now what can I read?"
 
What publishers and editors push the hardest is not necessarily the BEST or most loved books. The behemoth that is Afterworlds fell flat for me. I honestly cannot imagine what teen would slog through 600+ pages of back and forth story. The entire concept felt like an editor told Westerfeld to use as many "hot" pop culture topics as he could possibly find. 600+ pages is HEAVY and not in a good way. You could kill a bug with this book. Heck, you could take a zombie's head off with this book. Read it if you must, but you've been forewarned. And, I love Westerfeld's earlier work! There was lots of hype for this book and the publisher spent big bucks on  marketing it but a big disappointment for me.
 
This email from Mary Z is the reason I blog:
 
"I just wanted to say again how much I love and appreciate your blog.  Whenever I go to conferences, people ask, 'How do you select books for your library?" I tell them, "I read Pamela Thompson's blog.  If she likes it, I know my students will.'"
 
And, when I see a smile in the eyes (yes, you read that right) of a teen who brings back a book I've recommended and he/she says, "You were right about this book! I loved it! What else do you recommend?" I know why I blog.
 
I love to blog, I eat books and it's its own reward, but when a kid asks me what do I suggest for him/her to read next, it is sooooooooo valuable that I know just the right book!
 
To all of you who have written me or phoned me or met me at TLA, I wanted to thank you. It is your input that keeps me going even when the dark cloud of education is sometimes threatening overhead. With more and more non-library tasks assigned to our LMS in our district this year, it's hard to remember our REAL job---connecting readers to reading forever. I want kids who come through my library to ALWAYS love reading, always love libraries and always remember that middle school librarian (me! ) who nurtured them and their love of reading. If I can change non-readers into readers, I've done my job, my passion, my life's work, my reason for reading/reviewing/blogging.

Monday, October 27, 2014

YA Book Giveaway: Atlantia

 I have ONE free SIGNED copy of Atlantia, the exciting new YA book from accomplished author Ally Condie.
For your chance to win, post a comment to the blog. Please include your first name, city, state, and email contact (U.S. addresses only, please). Deadline for posts is November 3 at noon MST. The winner will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. The winner will be contacted on that date. Please check your email. The winner has 24 hours to respond to my email. The book will ship from New York. For more information on the book, read below. Good luck, and start posting! Pamela

Atlantia
by Ally Condie
Dutton Children's Books
2014
320 pages
ISBN: 9780525426448

Available October 28, 2014

From the publisher:
ATLANTIA tells the story of two sisters who live Below, in the underwater city of Atlantia. Rio has always dreamt of going Above, where her powerful siren voice will not need to be hidden. However, when her mother unexpectedly dies, Rio promises her twin sister, Bay, that she will remain Below for the rest of her days. When Bay suddenly abandons Rio for the Above, Rio becomes determined to join her sister and leave the constricting world of the Below behind. Ally Condie is the award-winning author of the Matched trilogy.
From Penguin's website:
“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

Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamed of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all Rio’s hopes for the future are shattered when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected choice, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long silenced—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the corrupted system constructed to govern the Divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

Praise

“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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Non-Fiction Pick: 77 Things You Absolutely Have To Do Before You Finish College

77 Things You Absolutely Have To Do Before You Finish College
by Halley Bondy
Zest Books
2014
191 pages, with resources
ISBN: 9781936976003

Informative and insightful, this book will give college bound grads some ideas what their future will be like. The book is divided into seven sections: Around the Pad (dorm room or apartment), Getting Out and About On Your Own, Taking Advantage of School, Being Social, Body and Health, Spoil Yourself, and For the Future.

Renting an apartment for the first time is a scary adventure. The author warns readers to take an experienced person with you--someone who has rented or bought property before (like a parent, older sibling or friend) will know what questions to ask, will point out faults and weaknesses of the property and its condition, and will be able to "translate" the lease agreement. This is sage advice even for young people who think they know everything. As a licensed realtor myself, I see how some apartment managers/property management companies can take advantage of the young, the inexperienced, the naïve, or the just plain ignorant lessee.

Other entries are  creating  a photo collection, joining a political campaign, joining  a college group, eating  all alone at a restaurant, trying  some weird kind of food like squid ink pasta and volunteering  at a shelter. "Learn Self Defense" does not show up until mid-book, but I think it should have been the #1 entry. College age students, primarily girls, should be aware of national statistics and take pro-active steps to avoid dangerous situations According to a report from the CDC, "In a study of undergraduate women, 19% experienced attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college." That is a staggering number! At my daughter's university, incoming freshmen and transfer students are given a lecture by campus police at orientation. The police warn to walk in groups and there is an app to contact campus security. The all call system warns students of dangerous situations such as a campus lock down or severe weather.

This book is the ideal going away gift for high school seniors and graduates. Although the cover is underwhelming to say the least, the information is valuable and well-organized. The cover should have been more colorful, maybe with a collage of college (haha, see what I did there?) symbols--a few mascots (made up ones, of course so the publisher does not have to pay for them), car keys, textbooks and a bill from the book store for over $1000 for just 3 textbooks, a microscope, pom poms, a football field, and a bowl of ramen--the staple of dorm rooms worldwide!

Recommended for any high school senior--either going away to college or commuting.

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, October 22, 2014

YA Pick: Famous Last Words

Famous Last Words
by Katie Alender
Point
2014
320 pages
ISBN: 9780545639972

PRAISE FOR FAMOUS LAST WORDS (from the author's website)
 
“Gothic horror meets Hollywood glamour in this satisfying mystery-thriller with a supernatural twist.” ~ Booklist
 
“Romantic, suspenseful, and so L.A — Katie Alender spins palm trees and movie magic into a killer ghost story that will haunt your heart from first page to last.” ~ Margaret Stohl, NYT bestselling author of the Beautiful Creatures series
 
“This fun, creeptastic book is a thrill ride that kept me guessing until the last moment. Nobody does ghost stories like Katie Alender.” ~ Cynthia Hand, NYT bestselling author of the Unearthly series
“Gothic horror meets Hollywood glamour in this satisfying mystery-thriller with a supernatural twist.” ~ Booklist
 
“Teens will keep the lights on all night to finish reading, but leave them on, just in case.” ~ VOYA
 
“A compelling supernatural thriller.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
 
 
Spooky, supernatural, surreal, and sensational! Famous Last Words will have readers turning pages at breakneck speeds racing to find answers to the mystery and a string of lurid murders.

Willa and her mother have just moved to sunny California. She has a new step-father who just so happens to be a fancy Hollywood director and lives in a  McMansion  in sunny  California. The mansion is well-known in Hollywood as it was built by a once famous actress of yesteryear. Soon, Willa begins classes at a Hollywood high school with the sons and daughters of the  rich and famous.

Willa's real father died two years ago, and she feels responsible for his death. If only she hadn't had a fight with him, he might be alive today she thinks. She tries to contact her  father's spirit every night.

Jonathan, Willa's step-father, tells her about a notorious serial killer who has been striking fear in Hollywood. The Hollywood Killer--as he is known--always kills young, single, pretty wanna-be actresses. He stages each body in a pose from a scene in some famous Hollywood movie. 

Willa meets dark and mysterious Wyatt who has been following the Hollywood Killer case on his own. She accidentally picks up his notebook and sees notes about the killer. Why would Wyatt have such detailed notes? How does he know so much about the case? Only someone close to the killer or the killer himself could know all the things in that notebook. Willa decides to steer clear of Wyatt.

When Willa  starts getting strange visions and having nightmares, she pretends nothing is wrong.  Sometimes she hears water dripping in the house, but after checking all the faucets realizes that there is no water running. Strange warning words appear on the walls of the house, but no one but Willa can see them. Willa is afraid she's going insane, either that, or there's a ghost haunting the mansion.

The visions get worse and more frequent and Willa begins seeing death scenes of the Hollywood Killer's victims. She gets more and more information from each vision and is close to solving the case. The closer she gets to answers, the more dangerous it becomes.

Famous Last Words is an exciting YA read. Katie Alender just keeps getting better and better. She is one writer who can write a great ghost story!

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. No sex. Murder and serial killer.

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, October 20, 2014

Early Reader Pick: How Do Dinosaurs Stay Safe?

How Do Dinosaurs Stay Safe?
by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Mark Teague
The Blue Sky Press
2014
40 pages
ISBN: 9780439241045

The charming cover says it all! Kids of any age will smile when they see the giant dinosaur trying to balance his humungous body on a small bicycle while  Mama frantically waves her arms and shouts in the background and the dog happily runs alongside and seems to be enjoying every precious minute. Illustrations by Mark Teague shine throughout the book and each dinosaur is labeled in every two page spread. Dinosaurs featured on the endpapers are having a rocking-saurus great time, and kids will want to point at each of them and recite their names.

Jane Yolen has a knack at captivating young readers with her prose. The playful book teaches kids some general rules of safety: how to dial 9-1-1, to be sure and take a bottle of water on a hike, always wear a bike helmet when riding a bike, hold hands to cross the street, always cross with the light, and never climb too high.

The book shows attention to detail:  the parents depicted are sometimes papas and sometimes mamas.  Kids will beg to read this dinostory again and again. It's so great, parents will find themselves smiling along with their children.

Yolen and Teague have a library of dinosaur books, and kids will want to collect all their titles.

Highly, highly recommended for everyone and dinosaur lovers everywhere.

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, October 17, 2014

Book Giveaway and Blog Tour: Code Busters Club

 I have 4 FREE books for one lucky winner! Simply post a comment to the blog and please be sure to include first name, city, state, and email. The winner will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Deadline for posts is October 21 at noon MST. Please check your email on that date. The winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email. The books will ship from New York courtesy of Egmont. Good luck and start posting! Pamela
The Code Busters Club – giveaway is Books #1-3 in paperback and Book #4 in hardcover (4 books to one person)
The Code Busters Club series by Penny Warner
Ages 8-12

 
“[A] fun series sure to appeal to graduates of Encyclopedia Brown and Ivy & Bean.”—Shelf Awareness
“This intriguing tale has vivid characters and such a tantalizing cliffhanger that readers won't be able to resist cracking the next Code Busters.”—Kirkus Reviews
The Code Busters Club, Case #1: The Secret of the Skeleton Key
978-1-60684-390-1
Trade Paperback
2011 Agatha Award Nominee
The Code Busters Club, Case #2: The Haunted Lighthouse
978-1-60684-455-7
Trade Paperback
Winner of the 2012 Agatha Award
The Code Busters Club, Case #3: The Mystery of the Pirate's Treasure
978-1-60684-517-2
Trade Paperback
2014 Agatha Award Nominee
2014 Anthony Award Nominee
The Code Busters Club, Case #4: The Mummy's Curse
978-1-60684-459-5
On Sale: 10/14/2014
Hardcover

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tales from a Not-So-Happily-Ever-After (Dork Diaries, book 8)

Tales From a Not-So-Happily Ever After
Dork Diaries, book 8
by Rachel Renee Russell
Aladdin
2014
295 pages
ISBN: 9781481421843

Read an excerpt

Fans of this series will be excited to get the newest book. The cover has massive tween girl appeal with its overload of pretty glitter and the eye-catching purple (lavender?) color will help the book fly off the shelf.

The story (sadly) does not live up to its packaging. The previous Dork Diaries were cute, funny, snarky, and fun to read. Tales From a Not-So-Happily Every After falls flat. Brianna is still a pain in the neck, Mackenzie is still a mean-girl diva, Brandon is still swoon-able and Nikki is as dorky as ever, but the story veers off into fairy-tale land. When Nikki is hit in the head during a brutal game of dodge ball, she blacks out. During her blackout, she "dreams" of every child's fairy tale imaginable: Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Cinderella, and many others.

I wish this Dork Diaries had more of a creative story. I felt a bit cheated that the author used well-known tales to tell a new??? story.

The book will probably have good sales and may make it to the bestseller list on the strength of the titles that came before. Readers may choose to skip the next book (if there is one). It is a shame that the latest in the series is the weakest one of all. The previous Dork Diaries--Tales From a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker--was Russell at her best; too bad the newest title followed such a strong book.

Recommended for fans of the series. Grade 4-up.


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, October 15, 2014

Trilogy Pick: The Infinite Sea (book 2, The 5th Wave)

The Infinite Sea
by Rick Yancey
Putnam
2014
300 pages
ISBN: 9780399162428

Gripping and desperate yet hopeful and healing, The Infinite Sea will have readers whipping through the pages to find out if this is truly humanity's last stand! Rick Yancey is a masterful storyteller who knows how to captivate. The only downside to The Infinite Sea is the sometimes confusing POV and figuring out which character is telling the story. The story jumps around a bit, so read carefully to make sure you don't miss plot points.

Cassie Sullivan and her close band of humans stick together; they are all they've got. The rest of the human race has fallen, and the Others won't stop until they have annihilated the Earth of every last human being. Cassie, Teacup, Zombie, Ringer and Poundcake want to wait for Evan Walker, but they know that time is running out before winter is upon them, or worse, before the aliens find them and kill them.

The group decides to move out. Cassie realizes that the aliens could have killed all of them  by now and wonders what they are waiting for. They should all be dead, yet she is in control and able to outsmart them and matches their every move with calculated chess moves of her own.

There is nothing the Aliens won't do to win, and that includes turning human toddlers into walking bombs. Cassie is horrified and vows to stop the aliens at all cost. Cassie begins to wonder if she is all human. She knows Evan is an alien but he has lived with humanity too long. Evan is beginning to turn human, but Cassie still doesn't completely trust him. Evan has a bad habit of disappearing when the humans need his help, but he promises Cassie that he'll always find her. Are the aliens really behind this Earth takeover? Or could it be someone even more insidious? Maybe all will be revealed in book 3; until then, I can only think, "Wow!"

Cassie is one human girl full of kick-@$$! She isn't about to let aliens win and she won't stand idly by and watch her friends murdered one by one. Note to self: in case of alien invasion and the 5th Wave, find a friend like Cassie and stick to her like glue.

Highly recommended for grade 7 and up. 

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



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



Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Giveaway and Blog Tour: BZRK Apocalypse (book 3)

BZRK – giveaway is Books #1 and #2 in paperback and Book #3 in hardcover
BZRK series by Michael Grant
Ages 14 and up
 
I have 3 books for one lucky winner up for grabs! Post a comment to the blog and please include first name, city, state and email. The winner will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Deadline for posts is noon MST on October 15. Please check your email on that date. The winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email. The books will ship from NYC courtesy of Egmont. Good luck and start posting! Pamela
 


BZRK
978-1-60684-418-2
Trade Paperback
2013 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults
“With simmering pots of sexual tension, near-nonstop action, and the threat of howling madness or brain-melting doom around every corpuscular corner, Grant’s new series is off to a breathless, bombastic start.”—Booklist, starred review
 
BZRK Reloaded
978-1-60684-504-2
Trade Paperback
VOYA Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror 2013
“The graphic descriptions of what the real and artificial creatures . . . Add in some discussable ideas on the ethics of human experimentation and a smart, simple explanation of the potential in nanotechnology . . . . Round out the experience with realistically unpredictable characters and blockbuster action sequences to complete this thoroughly enjoyable, incredibly disturbing story.”—VOYA, perfect 10 review
 
BZRK Apocalypse            
978-1-60684-408-3          
On Sale: 10/14/2014      
Hardcover
★ “A great choice for readers with a strong stomach, an interest in the future of biomedical technology and the essential ethical debate, or anyone willing to embark on an unnerving, frighteningly plausible thrill ride all around the globe.”—VOYA, perfect 10 review