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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spooky Pick: The Demon Notebook

The Demon Notebook
by Erika McGann
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
224 pages
ISBN: 9781402295386
Available June 2014

See the author reading an excerpt

Friends Grace, Rachel, Adie, Una and Jenny find a book of spells. The girls are charmed (pun intended) by the spells and even try out a few for fun. When none of their spells work, the girls assume the book is useless and ignore the fact that they may be responsible for unleashing terrible future events.

A run-in with a Ouija board turns their world upside down. Una begins  acting strange and the girls fear the worst. Next, swoon-worthy James is following Grace around like a love-struck puppy and classmate Andrew wets his pants. Suddenly, the spells aren't funny anymore. The girls realize their dabbling in magic can be hurtful and now they feel like bullies.

The magic needs to be undone and the girls turn to the only answer they can think of--the local cat lady. Kids at school tell stories about her--that she's a witch and she can put curses on people. The old lady agrees to help them but warns them that there will be no chickening out. The spells continue working while the girls worry that time is running out.

The girls find out they have a secret friend at the school who is able to help. Will they be able to get the old Una back and banish the demon before someone gets really hurt? Who will they trust to find the answers? What are they willing to risk to set things right?

Recommended for readers who like a funny adventure with dangerous magic.
Grade 5-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, April 28, 2014

High School Pick: Noggin

by John Corey Whaley
Antheneum Books for Young Readers
340 pages
ISBN: 9781442458727

Strange but moving, wildly inventive and brutally honest, daring, scary and wonderful,  Noggin is a story that will pull at readers' heartstrings.

Travis Coates is sick...really, really sick and dying. When doctors approach him and his parents with the idea of saving his life...well, somewhere down the line, Travis is willing to take that chance. Upon Travis's demise, his head will be saved and frozen with the hope that some day in the future, doctors can attach it to a new body, and Travis can begin life again.

Five years pass and Travis wakes up. The trouble is--time has passed for everyone but Travis. Friends have graduated and started their new lives, yet Travis is still in high school. His girlfriend Cate  is engaged to another man. His phone calls to her and friend Kyle  go unanswered. His parents tell him not to worry--that they will come around; they just need time.

Travis becomes a media darling. Reporters and camera people follow him to school. They all want to get a glimpse of the boy who died. Only one other person has gone through a procedure like Travis, and his doctor thinks it's a good idea for Travis and Lawrence to talk about their experiences.

Readers will empathize with Travis and his loneliness. He wishes everything to be how it was before he got sick. Time has passed and people change. He is going to have to accept the change, for better or worse and figure out a way to live with it.

Matthew Quick (author of The Silver Linings Playbook says, "The absolute best head-transplant-surgery love story I've ever read and instantly one of my favorite young adult novels. You can practically feel this book's big beautiful heart beating in your hands."

A must read for everyone grade 9-up. Some sex, talk of sex, death and dying, life and living.

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, April 23, 2014

YA Pick: In the Shadows

In the Shadows
Text by Kiersten White
Art and art story by Jim Di Bartolo
original story concept by Jim Di Bartolo
Scholastic Press
384 pages

Available April 29, 2014

Transcendent and beguilingly beautiful full color artwork  and gothic (creepy but romantic) story go hand in hand to capture readers and lead them on a mysterious journey. Cora and Minnie are sisters living in their mother's boarding house. Minnie gets excited when she learns new boarders Thomas and Charles will be staying on with them.

Evil lurks up the  road and Minnie  likes to tempt it. What lengths will Minnie  go to in order to have some fun? The closer the four get to answers about an ancient secret, the more danger they are in. What if life never had to end? What if you could live forever? Would you want to?

Readers are in for a treat--the art tells one part of the story and the words tell another part. The YA market just got more exciting! It was exciting for me to hear from the artist and writer at the Texas Library Convention about their new book. In a session of Speed Dating the Authors, Di Bartolo and White sat at our table and discussed In the Shadows and how they came up with the idea and how it came to fruition. The art is sublime and the story masterful.

Highly recommended for every type of reader. Grade 7-up.

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

Monday, April 21, 2014

YA Pick: I Have a Bad Feeling About This

I Have a Bad Feeling About This
by Jeff Strand
Sourcebooks Fire
242 pages
ISBN: 9781402284557

Hilarious, wry, sardonic, and off the charts witty, I Have a Bad Feeling About This proves yet again that Jeff Strand is the funniest YA writer in the business. Strand shows off his fierce sarcasm through his characters' dialog.

Geeky, skinny Henry is shipped away to a survival camp to "make him a man." His father sees a promotional video featuring a pumped up drill sergeant type instructor who will train young boys to become men, and decides this is just what young Henry needs.  Strongwoods Survival Camp is out in the wilderness near a forest. To say that the  camp is "rustic" is an understatement--rustic with really bad food. Henry bunks with four other unhappy boys who are there against their will. The boys form a loose alliance against Max, the evil drill sergeant.

Max confiscates the boys' cell phones and electronics. From then on, there will  be survival skills only. No outside world. No music. No television. No Internet. No gaming. The boys better pay attention to their survival skills lessons--no telling when they might really need them.

When several nefarious thugs show up at camp, Henry realizes it's them against the thugs. He musters all the courage he can and looks for the boys to help save themselves. What ensues is comic and tragic. Strand can make the most unfortunate situation hilarious. Fighting off armed criminals is not that funny...unless it's told by Jeff Strand.

Readers who enjoy laughing out loud and sarcastic banter will love I Have a Bad Feeling About This.
The cover art is spot on for this book. Clever packaging helps sell this one.

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. Violence and hilarious shenanigans.

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, April 17, 2014

Book Giveaway: Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue!

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue!
by Tom Angleberger

I have FIVE free copies of the latest installment in the Origami Yoda series that kids LOVE up for grabs. For your chance to win, post a comment to the blog. Please include first name, city, state and email address. U.S. and Canada only. Deadline for posts is April 29 at noon MST. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified on April 29 shortly after 12:00 p.m. Please check your email at that time. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Amulet.

May the folds be with you! Good luck and start posting, Pamela

YALSA Top Ten YA Books 2014

YALSA Top Ten YA Books of 2014
video here

For great titles, see what YALSA is recommending!

New YA Titles--Look What I Came Home With!

The Texas Library Association conference wrapped up last week (April 8-11), and I came home with 142 new YA titles to share! Here are a few that I'm excited about. From the top left corner:

Shooting Stars: My Life as a Paparazza
by Jennifer Buhl
352 pages
cover in progress--this cover is on the uncorrected arc
ISBN: 9781402297007

A true story of a female photographer who gives her witty chronicle of the lives of rich and beautiful celebrities.

Killer Instinct
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
384 pages
Cover not final; uncorrected advance proof
In-store date: 11/04/2014
ISBN: 9781423168324

By the author of the Raised by Wolves trilogy, Killer Instinct is the second in  the Naturals series. Cassie and her friends try to solve a serial murder case while outsmarting a master killer.

I Have a Bad Feeling About this
by Jeff Strand
Sourcebooks Fire
242 pages
ISBN: 9781402284557

Jeff Strand makes me laugh; enough said!

The Code Busters Club, book 1
by Penny Warner
228 pages
ISBN: 9781606843901
first published 2011

Fun for kids who enjoy solving codes and mysteries.

In the Shadows
by Kiersten White
art by Jim Di Bartolo
Scholastic Press
384 pages
On Sale Date: April 29, 2014
ISBN: 9780545561440

Beautiful full color illustrations by Di Bartolo tell half the story. Kiersten White's tale is the other half. Together the two stories weave a fabulous tale.

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue
by Tom Angleberger
Amulet Books
184 pages
ISBN: 9781419710520

Angleberger keeps getting it right. He knows kids and he knows origami! And, he's a nice guy!

Sleep No More
by Aprilynne Pike
352 pages
on sale date: April 29, 2014
ISBN: 9780061999031
uncorrected proof

By the author of the Wings series, Sleep No More will keep teens reading into the wee hours.

The Secrets of Lily Graves
by Sarah Strohmeyer
Balzer + Bray
304 pages
On-sale Date: May 13, 2014
ISBN: 9780062259608
uncorrected proof

Teen thriller that will entice!

The Vanishing Season
by Jodi Lynn Anderson
272 pages
On-Sale Date: 7/1/2014
ISBN: 9780062318244
Advance Reader's Edition

When girls start vanishing that fall, Maggie is drawn into the mystery. A thrilling read.

Alistair Grim's Odditorium
by Gregory Funaro
Disney Hyperion
432 pages
ISBN: 9781484711163
Uncorrected advance proof

Magical and wonderful, a child chimney sweep is off to save the world! 

Feral Curse (book 2)
by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Candlewick Press
255 pages
ISBN: 97807636594103

Creepy, mysterious, romantic.

Shipwreck Island
S.A. Bodeen
Feiwel and Friends
184 pages
ISBN: 9781250027771

S. A. Bodeen's latest book is about family, finding family, and facing fears.

Invaded (Alienated, book 2)
by Melissa Landers
368 pages
ISBN: 9781423169499

Romance, invasion and action.

Grasshopper Junger
by Andrew Smith
Dutton Books
388 pages
ISBN: 9780525426035

Sure to be controversial, Grasshopper Jungle is intelligent and masterful. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Just back from the Texas Library Association conference of 2014! Over 7,000 librarians, bibliophiles, teens, readers, writers, publishers and book people descended upon San Antonio, Texas, and had the best time ever!

The keynote speaker was James Patterson, prolific author and uber-prolific collaborator with other writers. I was prepared to not like James Patterson--just a pre-conceived notion on my part.  To my surprise, Patterson was charming, funny, wise and caring. His website ReadKiddoRead helps connect parents and kids with books. He has also pledged $1 million to independent books stores to help keep kids reading and is running a contest for college bound students. They can win gift certificates called College Book Bucks to spend at independent books stores. For more on James Patterson, check out his website

Publishers brought tons of ARCs to Texas and readers were scooping them up. At last count, I escaped with 142 books! Can't wait to start reviewing! Right now, I'm really excited about I Have a Bad Feeling About This by Jeff Strand.

After reading Strand's A Bad Day for Voodoo and finding it hilarious and uproariously, ridiculously hysterical, I am a Strand fan for life. I was lucky enough  to meet Jeff last year in Fort  Worth at TLA where he sat on a panel and talked to teens about funny books.
One event that was off the chain was Speed Dating with  YA Authors. Participants sat at tables and 40 YA authors rotated to each table every seven minutes or so. I was lucky enough to sit with Jonathan Maberry, Jonathan Auxier, and Eoin Colfer. In the next post, I will post all my author photos and photos of all the free books I took home with me to share with you and my library.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sci Fi Pick: Burn Out

Burn Out
by Kristi Helvig
253 pages
ISBN: 9781606844793

Lone survivor Tora Reynolds lives in a bunker designed by her scientist/inventor father. Having lost her entire family, Tora has never felt more alone. The last human she saw was Markus, a gun runner and general no-goodnik who promised to come back for her if he found a habitable planet. Earth has become a giant desert with little water or oxygen. Tora hopes for someone to post a comment to her GlobalNet post but she waits in vain to see if anyone else is alive out there.

Markus comes back, but the problem is that he is not alone. He brought some well-armed soldiers to storm Tora's bunker and take her father's weapons by force. They are not the only enemy. The Consulate sends its forces to take the guns for themselves. This makes Markus's team and Tora now one against the bigger brute--the government or what's left of it.

Kale, James, Britta, Markus and Tora go on a space chase trying to outrun the Consulate's ships and get their weapons safely to Caelia. Tora knows that Kale is the enemy but should she trust Markus who says he's "got her back?" And who is James and what is his angle? He seems like a good guy and Tora secretly crushes on him, but what is he doing as Kale's second in command? What does the Consulate hope to accomplice with Tora's guns?

Shifting loyalties and cloak and dagger rat and mouse games keep the reader guessing until the very end. The plot races along with just the right amount of shoot 'em up action. Tora will appeal to both girls and boys; her tenacity and toughness speak volumes of her character.

Recommended for any fan of sci-fi and space travel books. Grade 9-up. Profanity, violence.

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, April 7, 2014

Cover Reveal: Shattered

Cover Reveal

Shattered (book 2, Scorched series)
by Mari Mancuso

Available September 1, 2014

This is your chance to win a pendant like this
One lucky winner will get this fabulous dragon pendant from the author. For your chance to win, go to author's giveaway

From the publisher:

A fiery, action-packed installment in Mari Mancusi’s heart-pounding Scorched trilogy.
Trinity, Connor, and Caleb are trying to stay under the radar, holed up in an abandoned West Texas farmhouse. Their only problem is Emmy: a baby dragon that’s growing like crazy. When Emmy is caught on tape and the video goes viral, they find themselves on the run again. Their only hope comes from an old map leading to a man who has come from the future to help them. But with the government hot on their heels and Caleb’s growing addiction to spending time in the Nether world, will they be able to reach him in time? And will keeping Emmy safe end up being too high a price for Trinity to pay?
Marie Mancusi is an award-winning author of novels for adults and teens, including Gamer Girl (Kids Indie Next Pick, ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers) and the Blood Coven vampire series. In her free time she’s a two-time Emmy award-winning television producer.  A graduate of Boston University, she now lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and young daughter.

 Check out Shattered, sure to be a great read!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Blog Tour and Extras: Dear Nobody

Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose
edited by Gillian McCain & Legs McNeil
336 pages
ISBN: 978140228789

see the gallery of Mary Rose's drawings

Read an excerpt here

From the publisher:

Every word you read in this journal is the absolute, unvarnished truth. Told through Mary Rose’s actual diary entries, DEAR NOBODY is a raw and gripping account of a girl that grapples with the typical angst of teen life—love, happiness, heartbreak—but also struggles with drug and alcohol addiction and a terminal illness that loom over her life.  Intense and authentic, this an eye-opening account of a girl so desperate to be loved, so eager to fit in that she’ll go to extremes that could cost her life. 
Already critics are buzzing:
·        “A rare, no-holds-barred documentation of an American teenager’s life.”—Publishers Weekly
·        “The voice is authentic, this book is an experience.”—Kirkus Reviews
Mary Rose died when she was 17. As much as she hoped, a cure for her terminal illness has not been found.
“I feel like a real life loser—and the game is life. I’m failing everywhere—academically, emotionally, socially, and even intellectually. I am losing myself on a bet. A bet that I can survive, that I can still be what destiny wants me to be.”
Her editors, Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil, have given Mary Rose the voice that life and circumstances denied her. A vitally important and compelling read that’s sure to engender controversy and discussion, it’s a not-to-be-forgotten book, and destined to be a true diary classic.
My thoughts:
This is an unputtdownable page turner that is both heart breaking and life changing. Mary Rose is that teenager who is looking for love and belonging--she speaks to that need that is human in all of us. For fans of Go Ask Alice and books with a raw voice full of strife, longing and need. It will break your heart. This book is an emotional roller coaster that will pull you in. Teens will love this book.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Middle Grades Pick: Rose and the Lost Princess

Rose and the Lost Princess
by Holly Webb
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
272 pages
ISBN: 9781402285844

Magical, mysterious, glorious, gutsy, and mesmerizing, readers will love the magical plot and masterful storytelling. Rose is a character who is quirky and winsome; an orphan with moxie and spirit who will steal your heart!

From the captivating cover to the poetic and pitch perfect prose, Rose and the Lost Princess is a gem. Rose is a maid in the magical home of Aloysius Fountain, a master magician. He has agreed to tutor her in the magical arts along with housemate Freddie. Gus the cat is a constant curmudgeonly companion and Rose loves his sassy, purrfect (pun intended) demeanor. The other servants are either afraid of Rose thinking she might be some sort of witch or they are jealous of her new status in the household. Rose considers running away but is talked out of it by Mr. Fountain.

Winter comes early to London and with a vengeance; gossips believe it unnatural, perhaps even an evil spell. They begin blaming magicians and Parliament considers locking up all magical folk.  The King is worried about the safety of his daughter, the princess. His guards can't seem to keep her safe, so the King asks Mr. Fountain for Rose's services. Rose will pose as the princess's personal maid but secretly be a spy for the king and a magical bodyguard for the princess.  Princess Jane plays along at first, but tells Rose that she knows she knows that Rose is not just a normal maid.

There is magic afoot, but it's not of Rose's doing and the Princess is in real danger. Will Mr. Fountain and Freddie be able to uncover the dark forces? Can they recover the lost princess? Will Rose be found out as the imposter that she is? Can magic save the kingdom after all?

Readers who love a magical mystery will love Rose and the Lost Princess.

Highly, highly recommended grade 4-up.

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

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