Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Proverbs for Young People
Written and Illustrated by Jack E. Levin
Aladdin
2015
72 pages
ISSD: 9781481459457

According to New York Times bestselling author Jack E. Levin, he  had written the first few pages of Proverbs for Young People way back in 1959 and then forgot all about it. Now 90, Levin came across the pages and finished this charming book, "...as my little gift to our youngest generation...." Young children will want to ask parents and caregivers to offer  examples for each saying. Once they make the connection, the children will likely practice the attitude.

Our world will be a better place indeed if everyone practiced, "Kindness brings kindness" and "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." Every faith, creed and country can agree on basic morals and values. As humans we want to be happy, to do well and have our children thrive. It is a universal human need. Children who grow up with values and morals will be better adults who make ethical decisions.

The book is aimed at the preschool reader but this is a valuable teaching tool for pre-K and kindergarten age students. Drawings by the author enhance each proverb and each proverb's meaning is addressed in the last pages of the book.

Lesser known inclusions are "From little acorns, large trees grow," "Empty barrels make the most noise," and "Little strokes fell great oaks."

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)


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 28, 2015

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Illustrated edition
by J.K. Rowling
Illustrations by Jim Kay
Arthur A. Levine Books
2015
256 pages
ISBN: 9780545790352

Beautiful illustrations along with the beloved story of Harry will have Hogwarts fans clamoring for a copy. This is a great book to introduce younger and newer readers to the world of Harry Potter. Truly a book worth sharing, it is well crafted and one of the most beautiful books in publishing.


Mere words cannot capture the magic of Jim Kay's illustrations! Many are two page centerfolds and there is not one area of the book that has not been planned and decorated. Book one promises another out of the park hit for Rowling. The rest of the series will follow and it is my hope that no corners are cut in developing them. There are over 100 illustrations to capture the imagination.

Although it's too late to buy for Christmas, think about gifting a copy of this to any Harry Potter fan or any child who has yet to discover the magic of Potterville.

Highly, highly recommended for all readers!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the sneak peek from the publisher. Later, I purchased a copy for myself and am delighted with it! 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 24, 2015

Early Reader Pick: I'm Trying To Love Spiders

I'm Trying To Love Spiders
by Bethany Barton
Illustrations by the author
Viking
2015
32 pages
ISBN: 9780670016938


Whimsical and winsome, this little picture book is full of fun and facts about spiders. Even if you have arachnophobia, Barton offers many reasons to learn to love spiders. Did you know that the average spider eats about 75 pounds of bugs per year? Another fact that should make a difference: out of 40,000 species of spiders only two spiders are known to be poisonous enough to cause you pain or sickness: the black widow (female spider only) and the brown recluse.

Spiders are actually amazing little critters who get a bad rap. In fact, spiders can help farmers. Sometimes they are used to keep insects at bay and out of farmers' crops. The end papers feather interesting spiders like the assassin spider which preys only on other spiders and the diving bell spider who is able to practically live underwater.

Young readers will love colorful illustrations of spiders and the childlike whimsy and humor of the prose.

Recommended for young readers who love creepy crawlies!


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, December 17, 2015

Middle Grade Pick: The Nest

The Nest
by Kenneth Oppel
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2015
256 pages
ISBN: 9781481445474


 ....Oh, how I love this book!

Truly horrifying and engrossing, this mid-grade read will appeal to horror fans.  Kenneth Oppel has done the impossible--written a horror book that's scary, yes, but approachable for middle grades. The Nest has classic elements of horror: a family in turmoil, a boy who is a loner but longs for someone to talk to, a younger sister who is easy to approach, a mother and father busy with their infant son--too busy to see what's going on with their other children, a creepy knife sharpening man, a doctor who tries to help, a secret illness and a way to make everything perfect again.

Stephen worries when he hears his parents talking about the new baby's illness. He's just not right. The doctors always need to run tests; they worry the baby's heart will never be strong enough. Stephen's parents spend days and nights at the hospital leaving Stephen and his sister in the babysitter's care. Stephen begins to have a strange dream. Night after night, he dreams he sees an angel, and each night the angel becomes more clear to him. She talks to Stephen about the baby and offers to help the baby get well...to become perfect. At first, Stephen doesn't ask many questions. He realizes it's just a dream. An angel from a dream can't make things happen, right?

Stephen realizes the angel is a white wasp and her nest is the wasp's nest under the eaves of his home. Stephen becomes terrified then. The Queen wasp tells Stephen not to worry about anything; she will make sure his baby is fine. When Stephen realizes that the Queen plans on stealing the baby and replacing it with a "perfect" one, he tells her that he won't help her. There's nothing worse than an angry wasp, but an angry wasp Queen?

Descriptions of the nest will terrify and the thing that lives within will haunt my nightmares. From the mid-point of the book until the last page, readers will rush to turn pages at a breakneck speed. A quick read; this book should appeal to reluctant readers.

The Nest will top all "Best of" lists and I expect it will win awards (it's too bad Oppel is Canadian and not able to win the Newbery). The Nest  is truly a unique read for middle grades.

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 16, 2015

Tech Alert: Star Wars Lightsaber Escape

New tech now trending! Google Chrome Lightsaber Escape turns your phone into a lightsaber. Play with your desktop (tablets are not supported) and use your phone as a lightsaber. You have to see this to believe it! From techcrunch, watch the video. The Lightsaber Escape is the last story on this brief tech update.


Image from Lucasfilms

                    Happy gaming and May the Force Be With You! The Force Awakens!

Friday, December 11, 2015

YA Pick: Dangerous Lies

Dangerous Lies
by Becca Fitzpatrick
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
2014
384 pages
ISBN: 9781481424912


After last year's Black Ice, I was excited to get into Dangerous Lies. A word of warning: this is not as heart pounding and action packed as Black Ice. Dangerous Lies, is however, a good read of a different kind. Forced to leave her life and love behind, Stella Gordon is moved to Thunder Basin, Nebraska, as part of the witness protection program. Having witnessed a brutal murder, Stella is moved against her will. She's not a fan of the tiny town or her new living situation.

It is decided that she will live at a retired cop's house. Carmina's a tough old broad with a heart of gold. She won't put up with arguments, backtalk or laziness and makes Stella get a job right away. Stella works at a diner in town but plans to leave Thunder Basin in a few months when she turns eighteen--witness protection program or not. Stella secretly sends messages to her boyfriend Reed  in an account they set up to be "untraceable."  I just didn't buy the fact that Stella actually believed criminals and the government could not track her Internet use. Later Stella phones her estranged mother and thinks her actions are secret.

The ending made it all worth the read. Although the book dragged for me in the middle, it redeems itself at the end. Stella is a hard character to love. It's not her fault; she's had a hard life. Her mother is not Mother of the Year in anyone's mind. The lies Stella tells about the cartel crime end up coming back to haunt her. There are lies and half truths in Thunder Basin, too, and that makes the town more interesting. My favorite character is bad guy Trigger, a spoiled rich kid whose father seems to run the town. Trigger has is in for Stella, and when he finally puts the pieces together, it's exciting! I also loved Chet Falconer--I love his name, first of all! Then, he's a gentleman and a good guy. He's hard working, true to his word and a real catch--too bad he's fiction!

If your expecting an action packed blockbuster, this isn't the book for you. If you want a book about a tortured, tough, spunky girl who is  actually more afraid than she'll admit and a guy whose truly swoon worthy, this is a good read.

Recommended grade 9-up. No sex but we meet Stella in the first scene tangled up on a bed with Reed and the implication is that they have a history of this. Also, the drug angle and cartel angle has a mature vibe although it's no racier than anything on prime time television.

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 7, 2015

YA Pick: NEED

NEED
by Joelle Charbonneau
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2015
335 pages
ISBN: 9780544416697


From the author of the Testing trilogy comes this fast paced and freaky novel. NEED will fulfill teen appetites for solid YA thrills. The town of Nottawa, Wisconsin, has been infiltrated by a new website which promises teen followers to fulfill their needs. The only catch: if you post a need, you then must invite friends to join. As needs are met, more and more teens post on the site. Then the rules change.

Kaylee doesn't see the harm in asking for a favor. She wouldn't ask for something for herself, of course. She asks for a kidney for her younger brother who will die unless he gets a transplant. When she hears that other needs are being fulfilled, she's hopeful. Soon, new members are being asked to do easy tasks: dig a hole, take a photo, deliver a box, take a photo. What is the harm in that? When one teen dies and others are threatened, NEED turns into the enemy. And no one can "unfriend" NEED.

Who or what is pulling the strings at NEED? Can Kaylee and  Nate solve the mystery before it kills them? Whoever is behind NEED knows all the teens and all their families. What does NEED want?

As the duo close in on answers, more violence is unleashed. Readers will race through pages at a breakneck speed. This is one quick, unputdownable read!

Cover art and quotes of the needs will draw readers in. The quote, "No one gets something for nothing. We should all know better..."  promises twists and turns. A second book is possible since one character leaves town at the ending.

Highly recommended. Violence. No profanity. No sex. Grade 7-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)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Early Reader Pick: Strictly No Elephants

Strictly No Elephants
by Lisa Mantchev
Illustratons by Taeeun Yoo
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
(A Paula Wiseman Book)
2014
32 pages
ISBN: 9781481416474

Strictly No Elephants is a  sweet story full of promise for friendship and inclusion. It's Pet Club day and a boy would like to bring his unusual pet, a tiny elephant, to the club. When he's rudely turned away at the door---the cover says it all--he finds a girl who feels left out, too. They form their own group and include everyone no matter what type of pet or person they are.

This cute little book teaches young readers all about true friendship. Friends help each other, friends help friends be brave, friends stick together, and friends help everyone feel better. Illustrations by Yoo show the unwelcome faces of the first club, the sadness of the boy and his elephant (it's no surprise the scene occurs in a downpour), and the happiness of the new group of friends. I love that both the boy and his elephant wear matching red scarfs!

This is an incredible example of a book that can teach young readers values. Everyone will win with this winsome title.

Highly recommended for beginning readers. This book could easily be taught by a pre-K teacher or a Sunday school teacher, but mostly let's hope parents will read this book to their own child/children. It will open the door for conversations about friendship and what it is and how friends should act.

Required FTC 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 2, 2015

YA Creepy Pick: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys: Classic Tales, Brand-New Nightmares
Stories Selected by April Genevieve Tucholke
Dial Books
2015
385 pages
ISBN: 9780803741737

Dangerous, dark, devious, twisted (in the best way), tortured, and a true treasure trove of scary stories, Slasher Girls & Monster Boys cuts into YA fiction (pun intended). Compiled by Tucholke, this collection includes stories by YA heavyweights Jonathan Maberry, Carrie Ryan, Leigh Bardugo and Marie Lu, and others and it will truly entice teen (and adult) horror fans.

The dedication by Tucholke states this story collection is... "For everyone who read Stephen King when they were way too young." Count me in! Every horror fan will want to get a bite of this book. The creepy cover sells the book before readers even think about opening it.

Once opened, this book just keeps giving. From what starts out a bullying story and ends up apocalyptic (or does it?), "Fat Girl With a Knife" is compelling and scary. Readers are not likely to forget the main character. "Sleepless" is edgy and starkly realistic. It's a real cat and mouse game that readers are not likely to figure out until the gruesome and brutal end.

The book opens with "The Birds of Azalea Street," a dark tale of a terrifying neighbor who preys on the young and innocent. When the kids' prayers are answered, something otherworldly happens and it's awesome! At the end of each story, the inspiration for the story is revealed. Careful readers may be inspired to look up and read the earlier books and watch the classic movies mentioned. No one can go wrong with "Psycho," "Rear Window," "The Birds," or "Night of the Living Dead."

Finally! A short story collection for teen horror fans by YA authors! This book is bound to get attention in award circles due to the fact that it's a novelty among YA titles and it's so well done.
Each story is a gem and it's nearly impossible to pick a favorite, but Jonathan Maberry gets my vote.

Highly, highly recommended for horror fans and reluctant readers. Even a reluctant reader is bound to find a story here. This is a must have for story collections and horror collections.

Grade 9-up. Grisly, macabre and adult. Not for middle school readers.

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)