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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Family Pick: My Bibi Always Remembers

My Bibi always Remembers
by Toni Buzzeo
Illustrations by Mike Wohnoutka
Disney Publishing Worldwide
32 pages
ISBN: 9781423183853

Available September 2, 2014

My Bibi Always Remembers is a heartfelt homage to grandparents everywhere. Author Toni Buzzeo weaves a magical tale of an elephant family and their close relationships with one another. Captivating illustrations by Mike Wohnoutka capture not only the magnificence and majesty of the elephants but the nuances of playfulness, joy, love and belonging.

Tembo is the youngest in a family of elephants. Bibi is her grandmother and leader of her  family--in an elephant family, the oldest female is entrusted with keeping them all safe and remembering where to find food and water. Tembo is playful and forgetful, losing her way as she gets sidetracked by the sights. Each time she falls behind, Auntie or Bibi finds her. Bibi leads the family to the water where they drink and rest.

Tembo's expressions and childlike wonder for the world are palpable in each spread. Her sense of whimsy, joy, and fun are infectious and will captivate young readers and parents (and grandparents).
Repetitive phrasing calls for reading aloud and story times.

My Bibi Always Remembers would be a lovely gift for a new grandparent or grandbaby. Grandparents Day is celebrated September 7 this year, so get your copy when the book goes on sale September 2, 2014.

Highly, highly recommended for young readers and parents and grandparents everywhere.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the F & G from the author. 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, August 26, 2014

High School: Afterworlds

by Scott Westerfeld
Simon Pulse
608 pages
ISBN: 9781481422345

Dizzying, defiant, deviant, and direct, Afterworlds is a mash up of what every YA editor craves. It appears Westerfeld decided to hit every note that makes YA exciting: throw in paranormal romance, maybe a hot guy who just happens to be dead, make the protagonist an underrepresented ethnicity, make it a coming of age story, add helicopter parents who give in easily (yeah, right!), big city, bright lights and the siren's call of New York, the brisk publishing industry with its own sub-culture and jargon, a love interest--oh, but make it a lesbian relationship, add a few minor friends and write two stories in one and call it a bestseller. Sit back and collect the reviews and the revenues.

I was drawn to the possibility of the this novel. Much of it is good, if not great. The opening scene focuses on Lizzie (who is the protagonist of Darcy's soon to be published YA novel). The reader sees a terrorist attack at an airport where Lizzie is somehow transported to another plane (haha, pun not intended) where she meets hot death god Yamaraj. Maybe it's just me, but really, a hot death god? And Lizzie is not one bit squeamish?

Darcy's story is that of a recent high school grad who is lucky enough to have written a YA novel in thirty short days and sold it immediately to a publishing house in New York. She refuses to go to college, telling her traditional parents that she will be living in New York, thank you very much, and will be working on her rewrites while she waits on the actual publication date of her much anticipated novel. Darcy meets fellow deb writers at a cocktail party and becomes fast friends with one. Darcy is naïve and sheltered; she has never been in love or in a relationship, yet her parents agree to allow their young, naïve daughter to live alone in the  largest city in the nation? Without security and no doorman? In an apartment of her own choosing? (Westerfeld himself has no children).

I am a fan of Westerfeld's writing; so much so, that I gave Afterworlds the benefit of the doubt. I was excited to read Afterworlds; it is different from anything I've read. However, it seems at times the author is either pandering to the publishing industry or sniggering at the book buying masses. Judge for yourself. I have a feeling this is one book that will be buzzed about. Several times, I thought, "Genius!" and just as many times I thought, "Failure...."

Suitable for high school grade 9-up. Mature situations.

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)

Friday, August 22, 2014

YA Book Giveaway: Contaminated

Get your hands on a new copy of Em Garner's newest title and score a copy of the first book! Win Contaminate 2: Mercy Mode and a copy of Contaminated. Simply post a comment to the blog. Please include your first name, city, state and email contact. Deadline for posts is August 27 at noon MST. Please check your email on that date. The winner will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. The winner will be notified via email and has 24 hours to respond to claim her/his prize. Good luck and start posting!

Contaminated 2: Mercy Mode
By Em Garner
Ages 12+
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
“Volume 2 of this smart series builds momentum and suspense, raises stakes and expands narrative scope—in short, plan on a marathon, up-all-night read.”—Kirkus Reviews
A gripping survival story, the second in a series by a best-selling author, of a strong girl rebuilding her life in a post-apocalyptic society where a contaminated drink makes victims act like zombies; just right for fans of James Dashner, Carrie Ryan, and The Walking Dead.
Seventeen-year-old Velvet, her little sister, Opal, their mom, who is recovering from the Contamination, and Velvet's sweet boyfriend, Dillon, are attempting to build a new life amid the rationing and regulations of the post-outbreak nation. But the outbreak isn't over: more people turning into “Connies,” more madness erupting, more killings occurring. And what they are being told is not the truth; the truth is far darker and more threatening.

Reviews of Contaminated
“Suspenseful...this dystopia speaks to a wide range of readers, including reluctant ones.”—Kirkus Reviews

“This has plenty of suspense--it's not a book to read at bedtime.”—Booklist

“Velvet may have a softer name than her literary predecessors Katniss, Cassie, and Kaelyn, but like them she has been forced to take on adult-sized responsibilities within her repressive society.... the plot moves quickly...more of a relation-based book than many other teen dystopian novels.”—The Horn Book

Monday, August 18, 2014

YA Book Giveaway: The Green Teen Cookbook

Calling all foodies!
I have ONE free copy  of The Green Teen Cookbook up for grabs! For your chance to win, post a comment to the blog and please include your first name, city, state and email contact (sorry USA addresses only). Deadline for all posts is Friday, August 22. The winner is chosen randomly by Randomizer and will be notified by email on August 14. Please check your email on that date. Winner has 24 hours to respond. The book will ship from New York. Good luck and start posting!

Join the blog tour here

Kirkus Reviews:

"This by-teens, for-teens cookbook focuses on specific ways teens can live a healthy, environmentally conscious life without sacrificing the food they love. . . Cleanly laid out with photos of the teen contributors and the dishes themselves, this introduction to green eating is informative without being preachy."  - Kirkus Reviews
From the publisher:

BOOK DESCRIPTION The Green Teen Cookbook
The Kitchen can be one of the trickiest places for young adults to navigate—add trying to be healthy, eco-minded, and budget-conscious, and things get even more complicated! Now there is The Green Teen Cookbook (Zest Books; ISBN 978-1-936976-58-4; $14.99 PB) to help guide teens through the mysteries of the kitchen and create some amazing meals. With inspiring tips on how to cut through the chaos of going green as well as master over 70 recipes, including a seasonal key that ensures optimal freshness (and a minimal carbon footprint), any teen can become a green culinary expert and learn how to: shop on a budget; get the most out of your pantry; cook more consciously; eat healthier, and more! Featuring full color photos throughout, The Green Teen Cookbook is an all-in-one guide for eating green and eating well—by teens and for teens! 

This book is for people who enjoy cooking great, seasonal food for themselves as well as for other people—on a budget. It’s a guide for customizing recipes for each season, and for learning how to appreciate the different foods available each month. And readers looking to educate themselves on the food industry will enjoy the essays about globalization, vegetarianism, imports/exports, farming in the US and abroad, and much more.

The Green Teen Cookbook: Recipes for All Seasons - Written by Teens, for Teens edited by Laurane Marchive and Pam McElroy
Published by Zest Books and distributed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-13: 978-1-936976-58-4; July 29, 2014; $14.99 PB, 144 pages; Ages 12+

Friday, August 15, 2014

Horror Pick: Of Monsters and Madness

Of Monsters and Madness
 by Jessica Verday
276 pages
ISBN: 9781606844632

Available September 9,  2014

What others are saying:

"Verday offers a haunting portrait of a lonely, intelligent girl, while serving up gore and abundant references to classic Gothic horror stories. A monstrous mashup . . . inventive and engaging."—Kirkus Reviews
"Verday’s novel is a quick read that hooks readers into the mysterious and gothic atmosphere of Annabel’s Philadelphia. The plot is thrilling . . . . Annabel is a strong character."—School Library Journal
"The result is thoroughly dark and ominous, with a secret romance adding delicious tension."—Booklist
"Lots of good characters and an in-depth plot will keep readers engaged. Pairing classic literature and modern paranormal fiction is very appealing. This novel will provide cross-over appeal to both older teens and adults."—VOYA

My Review:

Madness most magnificent! Jessica Verday takes a vulnerable innocent young lady  and ships her halfway around the world from her home in exotic Siam to the bustling city of Philadelphia--a place she's never been.  Annabel is surrounded by a family she has never known, a creepy house that is both ghostly and Gothic, a strange, demented father, a tall, dark and handsome lab assistant whose cousin is a cad and a thug, and a string of grisly murders that grips the city in terror.

Annabel's maid Maddy is her first friend and confidant. Strange goings-on in the middle of the night cause fright, and Annabel is concerned with her father's weird behavior and strange appearance. The cooks warn Annabel to stay away from her father's lab, but Annabel is curious and suspicious. Annabel has no fear of the dark; she continually seeks out danger in the dark of night. Armed with only a candle and her own strong resolve, she wanders the expanse of the mansion searching for answers.

The mysterious murders continue and this has everyone in Philadelphia on edge. Annabel and Allan share a few fleeting moments, and she realizes that she is deeply, hopelessly in love. The house continues to hide its secrets, until one fatal night when Annabel sees too much.  Discovering her father's secret will change everything. Or will it?

Of Monsters and Madness is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde meets Frankenstein meets Gothic horror meets The Island of Dr. Moreau meets Edgar Allan Poe. Verday seamlessly blends the old with the new and teens will love it! Verday assures readers that there will be a sequel. She writes, "Don't worry! I won't leave you hanging."

Highly, highly recommended for any fan of Poe's works and for those who love a Gothic tale. I truly enjoyed this mash-up, and so will you. Great fun!

Grades 7 and up. Some steamy kisses, some gore. No profanity.

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, August 12, 2014

Book Release: My Year of Epic Rock

My Year of Epic Rock
by Andrea Pyros
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Available September 2, 2014

visit the author's website

Kirkus reviews

Guest Post: Author Andrea Pyros

Andrea Pyros, author, My Year of Epic Rock 
August 12, 2014
For Books by Pamela Thompson 

Food Allergies & Feeling Left Out 

I started working on My Year of Epic Rock, which features a main character with food allergies, right after I discovered my then one-year-old daughter had multiple allergies, including to eggs, dairy and nuts. Since she was still so young, I knew I’d be able to protect her by cooking for her, carefully reading labels and bringing her own safe foods if we were out and about, but what would happen when she got older and saw all her classmates eating birthday treats or talking about how some awesome pizza parlor that she couldn’t visit, or she had to decide whether or not to eat a snack offered to her by a teacher or friend? 

What was middle school was like for kids with food allergies, I wondered. Studies show that about a third of schoolchildren with allergies are bullied because of their dietary restrictions, which is pretty awful. Being different during those years isn’t easy. You get picked on for being tall or short, the new kid, the best student or the worst. For kids with food allergies, they stand out because of what they can’t eat, and even though food allergies are increasingly common in people under 18, it can still be a lonely and isolating condition. 

The thing about not fitting in, though, is that after the initial “ouch” of it, it can be really freeing. You live through having someone tease you, or not want to hang out with you anymore, and you realize you can survive and move on and make new friends and discover cool stuff about yourself. That’s what I was hoping to explore in My Year of Epic Rock. Not that food allergies suck (even though they do!), but how once you get over your desire to fit in, you might find a way to an even better place, even if you can’t eat a PB&J sandwich. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Picture Perfect Pick: Goatilocks and the Three Bears

Goatilocks and the Three Bears
by  Erica S. Perl
Illustrated by Arthur Howard
Beach Lane Books
40 pages
ISBN: 9781442401686

What happens when a hungry kid (goat) yes, pun intended, lives near a family of three bears? Of course the young kid, Goatilocks is curious...curious enough to sneak around the bears' abode and test their soup (porridge), their furniture, and yes! even their beds! What makes this story even funnier is that Goatilocks sees the bears' sadness, and she feels bad. She wants to make it up to her neighbors, so she gives them a beautiful gift.

This funny take on the story of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" is bound to bring smiles all around. Goatilocks has some appetite and kids (haha, yes, you know it!) will giggle when Goatilocks burps.
The bears show no ill will and are all smiles when Goatilocks shares a feast with them at the end.

Colorful, zany illustrations throughout capture the whimsy of the story and Goatilocks's personality. This is a cute book to share with young readers and pair with other retellings of classic stories.

Recommended ages 4-8.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive 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, August 5, 2014

Spooksville PIck: The Howling Ghost (book 2)

The popular "Spooksville" television show  can currently be seen on the Hub Network which received the Parents' Choice Approved Seal. Young readers will be thrilled to read Christopher Pike's books in the new packaging. First released in 1995, The Howling Ghost will appeal to another generation of thrill seekers, ghost hunters and fans of things that go bump in the night.

Here is the earlier cover:

Here is the new cover from Aladdin:

The Howling Ghost
(Spooksville, book 2)
by Christopher Pike
128 pages
ISBN: 9781481410533

Middle grade readers are in for a real treat when they discover Christopher Pike and his Spooksville series. The Howling Ghost is a quick read and a book I would recommend in a second for any reluctant reader. The cover art is nothing short of spectacular! A ghostly, scary hand reaches out of the stormy sky beside a lighthouse where the waves are threatening a small boy who stands periously close to danger. His sister seems to attempt to get his attention from her vantage point on the rocks. This cover will have this book jumping into shopping carts and baskets for good reason! 

Newcomers to Spooksville, Cindy and Neil are out near the old lighthouse. Neil begs to go near the water and Cindy relents. She climbs to a rock to get a better look of the shore and water. Suddenly, a giant ghostly hand descends from the sky, the water begins churning like a tidal wave and then there's that unearthly noise. Neil is grabbed up and taken to???Cindy doesn't know. One minute Neil is right there, the next he has vanished into thin air. Town police rule it a drowning, but Cindy knows the truth.   No one will believe her.  That is until Sally, Adam and Watch come to the rescue of the new damsel in distress. 

Sally believes everything that is weird can and does happen in Spooksville. She can't explain why things happen, they just do. Sally tells Cindy not to worry--the kids will find Neil and figure out what is really going on. A trip to the haunted lighthouse turns into a harrowing adventure and escaping the ghost's wrath becomes the most important part of their mystery. The kids decide they need to know who the ghost is to figure out what the ghost wants with Neil.

Any fan of the t.v. show will tell you it's all about the chemistry of the characters. It is the same for this book. Sally is no-nonesense, fearless, faithful and snarkily funny. She will have you grinning with her quick barb; Watch and Adam are seemingly clueless but loveable nonetheless. 

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)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Series Pick: The Fallout

The Fallout
(sequel to The Compound)
by S.A. Bodeen
Feiwel and Friends
326 pages
ISBN: 9780312650117

At the end of The Compound (which was a stand alone book, more on that later), Eli, his mother and siblings escape the Compound, an underground, fully-sustainable home, actually more prison than home where his father locked them up years earlier to escape the aftermath of nuclear war.

The Compound is destroyed, Eli and his family saved except for his father who dies with the Compound, and now lives that were once locked away must  live under the watchful eye of the public. Eli is at first  happy to see his identical twin brother Eddy, but soon realizes Eddy is jealous and mad that so many years were ripped away from him and their father.

Picking up the pieces of his broken life, Eli learns that his father's company is being run by shady, greedy adults and all is not as it appears. Secrets are being kept, futures decided, experiments performed, and lives are in danger. Eli needs to know who is behind the deception--and fast!

Whatever secrets YK Industries holds, they are willing to do anything to keep them. The relationship between brothers is tested throughout the book. When they are faced with a foe bigger and more dangerous, will they have each other's back?

Somehow Bodeen makes the most implausible plausible. The science behind Eli's dad's experiments make sense, even his reasoning seems nearly normal, but the family dynamic is hard to swallow. That was the only fault in the story for me. Would Eddy blindly follow a father who escaped a certain death, but who knowingly left his own son to perish? Would Lexie love a man who showed her no regard?

The Compound was meant to tell the story--the entire story, but Bodeen kept getting the same question over and over from teen fans: What happened next? They wanted to know. It got the writer thinking about what happened. Yes, the Compound is destroyed, but what happened to Eli? What happened to his father's company and billions? What happened to the family? What happened to the little kids who had never seen outside before? The Fallout answers the fans' questions.

Recommended for fans of Bodeen (and who isn't?) and those who read The Compound (and again, who didn't).
Grade 7-up. Some mature content and scientific experiments run amok. No profanity.

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)