October 18, 2018

Book Review: The Unicorn in the Barn by Jacqueline K. Obrun




Title: The Unicorn in the Barn
Author: Jacqueline K. Ogburn
Copy Obtained: From publisher


About the Book from Goodreads
For years people have claimed to see a mysterious white deer in the woods around Chinaberry Creek. It always gets away. One evening, Eric Harper thinks he spots it. But a deer doesn’t have a coat that shimmers like a pearl. And a deer certainly isn’t born with an ivory horn curling from its forehead. When Eric discovers the unicorn is hurt and being taken care of by the vet next door and her daughter, Allegra, his life is transformed.

One sentence review: Sweet story that's great for young middle school students, but I hoped for more.  
Best for readers who: Are obsessed with unicorns, but will also understand it's a series book
Best Stick-with-You Image: The baby unicorns
Library Thoughts: I'm not sure if this is one I'd get - only because kids want a fun book about unicorns, and this is a more series book.  


This book was not at all what I expected it to be!  I was thinking it would be more light-hearted and magical since it involves a unicorn.  Instead, I found a book that had a much deeper level of seriousness mixed in with magic and family history.  Eric is a sweet boy that has gone through some changes.  The woods he's lived in forever have been sold off to another family.  The house he visited everyday where is Grandma lived is now completely different.  He has to watch everything he knew change.  That's tough for any kid, but he handles it well.  Now throw in a unicorn, other magical creatures, and a sick grandmother, and you'll see that Eric (and the reader) has a lot going on.  Because of this, the story stayed on the surface quite often.  That isn't necessarily bad, but it did see places where it could've gone deeper.  I don't think this will bother the intended audience at all, but as an adult reading it I did feel it.  

I was thankful that Eric and Allegra become more friends.  I thought at first they would do nothing but fight.  I liked that it shows readers that even with changes if you keep your mind open you can find good things.  Great message to show.

Lastly, I do have to comment on the first time Eric sees the unicorn.  He doesn't have a crazy big reaction.  Yes, he reacts, but I would've gone nuts and questioned my sanity etc.  He does none of that. He really just accepts it!  It was just something I noted.  

Over-all good book for middle schoolers, but as an adult it had some weaknesses.  




October 17, 2018

Waiting (to read) on Wednesdays: Impostors by Scott Westerfeld

There are some books I just can't wait for - whether it's waiting for them to be published or for me to just get time to read them.  

Here's where I share! 

Today I'm waiting to read:


Frey and Rafi are inseparable . . . but very few people have ever seen them together. This is because Frey is Rafi’s double, raised in the shadows of their rich father’s fortress. While Rafi has been taught to charm, Frey has been taught to kill. Frey only exists to protect her sister. There is no other part of her life. Frey has never been out in the world on her own – until her father sends her in Rafi’s place to act as collateral for a dangerous deal. Everyone thinks she’s her sister – but Col, the son of a rival leader, is starting to get close enough to tell the difference. As the stakes grow higher and higher, Frey must decide whether she can trust him – or anyone in her life.

Why I'm waiting to read:
I loved the Uglies series.  REally loved them, so when I saw that he was coming out with a 5th book in the series I was so excited.  Now just to get it and get it read! With judging for the Cybils it will be awhile before I get to, but I will! 
Now if I could just get him to write a new book for The Midnighter's series!

October 16, 2018

Nerd Book Blast: The Lantern's Ember by Colleen Houck +GIVEAWAY





Welcome to a world where nightmarish creatures reign supreme.

Five hundred years ago, Jack made a deal with the devil. It’s difficult for him to remember much about his mortal days. So, he focuses on fulfilling his sentence as a Lantern—one of the watchmen who guard the portals to the Otherworld, a realm crawling with every nightmarish creature imaginable. Jack has spent centuries jumping from town to town, ensuring that nary a mortal—or not-so-mortal—soul slips past him. That is, until he meets beautiful Ember O’Dare. 

Seventeen, stubborn, and a natural-born witch, Ember feels a strong pull to the Otherworld. Undeterred by Jack’s warnings, she crosses into the forbidden plane with the help of a mysterious and debonair vampire—and the chase through a dazzling, dangerous world is on. Jack must do everything in his power to get Ember back where she belongs before both the earthly and unearthly worlds descend into chaos.  


AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Can I just say that the cover is AMAZING! Wow!!! Well done!  And yes the summary sounds fantastic too! 
To find out more about the tour check out the link HERE


Praise for THE LANTERN'S EMBER

"[Houck] offers a fresh spin on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow...with some genuine surprises in store." —Kirkus

"A wild and seductive adventure...a must-have for YA collections." —SLJ  





New York Times Bestselling author Colleen Houck is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, paranormal, science fiction, and romance. When she’s not busy writing, she likes to spend time chatting on the phone with one of her six siblings, watching plays, and shopping online. Colleen has lived in Arizona, Idaho, Utah, California, and North Carolina and is now permanently settled in Salem, Oregon with her husband and a huge assortment of plush tigers.  

PHOTO CONTENT FROM COLLEEN HOUCK


TWITTER:  @ColleenHouck

Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter
5 Winners will receive a Copy of THE LANTERN'S EMBER by Colleen Houck


a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 15, 2018

Blog Tour Book Review: In Your Shoes by Donna Gephart

Title: In Your Shoes
Author: Donna Gephart
Copy Obtained: From publisher


About the Book from Goodreads
Miles is an anxious boy who loves his family's bowling center even if though he could be killed by a bolt of lightning or a wild animal that escaped from the Philadelphia Zoo on the way there. 

Amy is the new girl at school who wishes she didn't have to live above her uncle's funeral home and tries to write her way to her own happily-ever-after. 

Then Miles and Amy meet in the most unexpected way . . . and that's when it all begins. . . . 

One sentence review: Sweet story that reminds us everyone is going through something.  
Best for readers who: Like serious books
Best Stick-with-You Image: Um I don't think I'll ever get the image of a bowling shoe flying through the air and hitting someone's head
Library Thoughts: Yes I'd get this for the media center because I know some kids really need this mirror reminding them they aren't alone.  


I don't know of any other middle-grade book that contained all the things this book contained.  For one - a bowling alley.  I don't recall a MG book with a bowling alley!  Please remind me of one that I
might be forgetting.  That alone made this book unique.  But in all seriousness, there was more.  Both of the main characters were so interesting and working their way through their own struggling that I couldn't help but feel for them.  Amy's story is so tough knowing that she lost her mom, and now her dad is gone a lot of the time.  I don't know how she dealt with losing her mom and then living in a funeral home where she had to be surrounded by more death.  That would be tough for an adult let alone a 12-year-old.  And when she talked about just wanting to talk to her mom my heart hurt.  It was such an honest statement that anyone who has lost of a loved one knows.  Miles story isn't as tough but he's dealing with something not everyone understands.  I think so many students would relate to his struggle with anxiety.  Like Amy's story, it would help them see they aren't alone.  I really liked Miles.  He was such a real kid  - so believable.  And I love his feelings for his grandpa.  You don't see that as much in books, and I know a ton of my kids are close to grandparents, so that's great for them to see in a book.  

The secondary characters are good too.  I like Tate.  She's her own person, and you have to respect her for that! But at the same moment, she's every middle-schooler all about standing out yet fitting in.  It's a hard struggle! Although very minor characters I also liked all the adults.  Miles parents were great.  They were believable just like Miles was.  Although Amy's dad angered me some just because he left her with her uncle a lot and sometimes didn't seem to be there for her.  I got why he did it, but it was frustrating for me.  

One note - the librarian at Amy's school is Mr. Shu.  I'm sure he's based on the real Mr. Shu and that's cool.  But for me using the name Mr. Shu threw me everytime.  It jolted me out of the story a bit.  It's probably just a me problem but I thought I'd mention it! 

Over all good little book! 

October 14, 2018

Limited Posting


Hey everyone I just wanted to give you a heads up that (except for the posts I currently have scheduled), I'll only be posting reviews for a while.  


I'm a first-round Cybils judge and I really only have time for reading and reviewing.  And the reviews may be short on top of that! 

October 12, 2018

Rockstar Blog Tour: Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks +GIVEAWAY

http://www.rockstarbooktours.com/

Graphic novels are huge at our middle school.  I mean I got one kid to read Macbeth because it was a graphic novel! So when given the chance to check out a new graphic novel I jumped on it!

Today I'd like to introduce you to:


Title: SANITY & TALLULAH
Author: Molly Brooks
Pub. Date: October 16, 2018
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook
Pages: 240
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD

Sanity Jones and Tallulah Vega are best friends on Wilnick, the dilapidated space station they call home at the end of the galaxy. So naturally, when gifted scientist Sanity uses her lab skills and energy allowance to create a definitely-illegal-but-impossibly-cute three-headed kitten, she has to show Tallulah. But Princess, Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds is a bit of a handful, and it isn't long before the kitten escapes to wreak havoc on the space station. The girls will have to turn Wilnick upside down to find her, but not before causing the whole place to evacuate! Can they save their home before it's too late?

Readers will be over the moon for this rollicking space adventure by debut author Molly Brooks.

Does this sound just fun and cute and great?! I know it's one I'll be able to sell easily to my middle school students.  Something I liked about it when just flipping through was the colors.  It's all black, white, grey and a muted pink.  Love it!  Just not colors I typically see in graphic novels! 

Can't wait to read this one! Watch for my review very soon.  

About Molly: 

I’m a freelance illustrator/comics-maker in Brooklyn by way of Nashville.

Website | Twitter |  Goodreads | Tumblr

Check out the rest of the tour:

Week One:
10/8/2018- A Backwards Story- Review
10/9/2018- Christen Krumm, Writer- Review
10/10/2018- The Layaway Dragon- Review
10/11/2018- Here's to Happy Endings- Review
10/12/2018- The OWL- Review

Week Two:
10/15/2018- Rhythmicbooktrovert- Review
10/16/2018- Beagles & Books- Review
10/17/2018- Utopia State of Mind- Excerpt
10/18/2018- YA Books Central- Interview
10/19/2018- Eli to the nth- Revi

GIVEAWAY!  

Giveaway Details:


3 winners will win a finished copy of SANITY & TALLULAH, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 11, 2018

Book Review: The Nest by Kenneth Oppel


Title: The Nest
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Copy Obtained: Purchased

About the Book From Goodreads

For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered.

All he has to do is say “Yes.” But “yes” is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back?



One sentence review: What an odd little book!
Best for readers who: Ok with books that don't follow normal rules of storytelling and reality.  
Best Stick-with-You Image: The description of the wasps
Library Thoughts: I have two copies in the library because it's a Maud Hart Lovelace nominee this year.  I know several kids have read it, but it's a harder sell.  


I'm not even sure where to start with this review.  I didn't hate the book - I really didn't.  It was very interesting, and it really kept me enthralled.  But it's definitely not a book for everyone.  It has the qualities of mystical realism.  At points, I wasn't sure what to believe if anything!  And then I questioned why any of the events in the story were happening at all.  I've actually kept thinking about, and I finished the book over a month ago!  I can see that Steve is supposed to learn from the events, and I know he did.  And what he learned has stuck with me - and made me continue to think about it.  But in the same breath, I just keep thinking - "What an odd little book!".  I know this is a really vague review, but so much of it, you just need to experience yourself.  

I did like the characters.  Steve was great. He was the right mix of brave and confused and innocent.  I loved his growth, and that was the best part. 

Over-all it's a book I'll need to hand sell to students I know will "get" it.  

Side-note: If you don't like wasps this could be a tough book for you!  My daughter who is really afraid of them won't even think about reading the book! 

October 10, 2018

Cover Crush: The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth



I love book covers! I love walking around Barnes and Noble just looking at all the different covers.  

A good cover will make me pull the book off the shelf!  It's almost like I have a crush on them :)

Today I'm crushin' on:


About the Book:
Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. But that night took a turn when the sisters were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge. 

When they finally returned to London, nothing had changed at all—nothing, except themselves. 

Now, Ev spends her days sneaking into the woods outside her boarding school, wishing for the Woodlands. Overcome with longing, she is desperate to return no matter what it takes. 

Philippa, on the other hand, is determined to find a place in this world. She shields herself behind a flawless exterior and countless friends, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was. 

But when Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.


Why I'm crushin':


I just love the coloring on this cover.  All the white with the hints of pink - it's so pretty! Really that's why.  I just don't see covers like this one - the starkness of the white accented and shadows with pink.  

October 4, 2018

Book Review: Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner


Title: Fake Blood
Author: Whitney Gardner
Copy Obtained: Purchased



About the Book from Goodreads
It’s the beginning of the new school year and AJ feels like everyone is changing but him. He hasn’t grown or had any exciting summer adventures like his best friends have. He even has the same crush he’s harbored for years. So AJ decides to take matters into his own hands. But how could a girl like Nia Winters ever like plain vanilla AJ when she only has eyes for vampires.

When AJ and Nia are paired up for a group project on Transylvania, it may be AJ’s chance to win over Nia’s affection by dressing up like the vamp of her dreams. And soon enough he’s got more of Nia’s attention than he bargained for when he learns she’s a slayer.
Now AJ has to worry about self-preservation while also trying to save everyone he cares about from a real-life threat lurking in the shadows of Spoons Middle School. 

One sentence review: What a fun book! 
Best for readers who: Of course, love graphic novels but also for readers who have done something silly to show they aren't alone
Best Stick-with-You Image: The fake blood dripping!
Library Thoughts: Yes this will be a great addition to my graphic novel section

Each month we get a box of Junior Library Guild books.  This was in a recent box.  As soon as I opened it and saw it, I knew I had to read it!  I was completely in the Twilight craze and loved it all, and I've always liked vampire books.  The fact that this was a graphic novel just added to its appeal.  It didn't disappoint.  I love the fake that AJ fakes being a vampire.  Such a tween thing to do! And then to think he could get away with it - even better! The characters in the book are fun and very much like the students I know.  Silly, emotions pinned to their sleeve, obsessed with fitting in.  This is not only shown through AJ but also with his friends.  His two best friends are constantly trying to one-up each other in all different ways.  AJ tolerates it, but also gets annoyed by that - very typical.  I found his friends funny! And I liked that they were good friends who supported AJ.  Great model for kids.  

In the end, the pretending to be a vampire has a nice twist and lots of fun! Glad I picked it up! 


October 2, 2018

Book Review: Skylark and Wallcreeper by Anne O'Brien Carelli

Title: Skylark and Wallcreeper
Author: Anne O'Brien Carelli
Copy Obtained: From publisher



About the Book from Goodreads
While helping her granny Collette evacuate to a makeshift shelter in Brooklyn during Superstorm Sandy, Lily uncovers secrets of her grandmother's past as a member of the French Resistance during WWII.

Queens, 2012.

Hurricane Sandy is flooding New York City, and Lily is at a nursing home with her grandmother, Collette. Lily visits Collette often, as she is beginning to lose her memories. When the National Guard shows up to evacuate the building and take them to safety at the Park Slope armory in Brooklyn, Lily's granny suddenly produces a red box she's hidden in a closet for years. Once they get to safety, Lily opens the box, where she finds an old, beautiful Montblanc pen. Granny tells Lily that the pen is very important and that she has to take care of it, as well as some letters written in French.

But Lily loses the pen in the course of helping other nursing home residents, and as she searches the city trying to find it, she learns more about her grandmother's past in France and begins to uncover the significance of the pen with the help of her best friend, a quirky pen expert, and a larger-than-life, off-Broadway understudy. Told in alternating sections (2012 and 1944), this engaging book explores a deep friendship during difficult times and the importance of family.
 

One sentence review: Great historical fiction that gives a view of WWII that isn't as prevalent in middle-grade books. 
Best for readers who: Enjoy history - specifically WWII history.  Also, readers who can hand a more serious book
Best Stick-with-You Image: When Collette was almost caught delivering messages
Library Thoughts: Although I don't think it's a book every kid can read I think it brings to life a part of WWII not often shared with middle-school students, so yes I would put in the media center. 

I am not a huge historical fiction fan.  I like it, but it's not my first choice when picking a book to read (unlike my daughter who loves historical fiction!).  But this one intrigued me because of its subject and how it is written.  I loved that it went back and forth between current time and the past.  It gave me a cool perspective on Collette (the grandma) and reminded me that when we see the elderly to not forget they can have some of the most amazing pasts.  We need to learn those pasts so they aren't lost.  

The story of the resistance was great.  So many books look at the Holocaust during WWII which is very important, but it was nice to see what else was happening and how people fought back.  I learned a lot and feel I have a better understanding now! This part of the story was also hard for me just because I feel things so strongly when I read, so I felt so much stress and nervousness! 

The whole story with Lily looking for the pen was great.  Some fantastic characters came into play.  Some may think their big personalities weren't necessary to the telling of the story, but I liked them! This is a long book, and adding these characters in kept my interest.  And I felt like they were well woven into the story.  

In the end, I enjoyed it.  I do know that it's not a book that any middle school can pick up and read.  The size alone will scare some, but it's one that I know if I book talk to students I know well, they'll read it and be able to talk it up to others! 

September 28, 2018

In the Library


I am a middle school media specialist - grades 5-8.  

Here are some things happening in our media center! 

I plan on making this at least a bi-monthly post on Fridays.  We'll see if life gets in the way!

Maud Hart Lovelace Book Nominees

One of the biggest things done since the media center opened was getting all the Maud Hart Lovelace book nominees, cataloged, stickered and out.  That was for a total of around 50 books which is a lot at the start of the year.  I'm happy to say they are all out and read for the kids to start reading.  

Here's the display



We also got new furniture.  That was exciting!




And I put up some other displays



By the Numbers

Current Number of Books Circulated 

1877


Number of Book Currently Checked out

1043


Number of books added so far this year

205


Top 5 Books Checked Out

Girl Stolen
The Maze Runner
El Deafo
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Cabin Fever
Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Third Wheel





September 27, 2018

Cover Reveal: Blastaway by Melissa Landers

http://www.rockstarbooktours.com/


Today Melissa Landers and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover and an exclusive content for BLASTAWAY, her new Middle Grade Sci-Fi which releases Summer 2019! Check out the awesome cover and the excerpt!


On to the reveal! 

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I LOVE IT!!!! So cute! So fun! And I really see it as a bit different from other covers out there, so it won't blend in with everything else!  
If I was wandering around Barnes and Noble and saw this cover I would pick it up for sure.  And actually - I can't wait to see it in person!

About the Book

Title: BLASTAWAY
Author: Melissa Landers
Pub. Date: Summer 2019
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Goodreads


Pitched as "Home Alone in space," a young science prodigy who runs away in his family spaceship must team up with a plucky mutant to save the Earth from destruction.

Scheduled for publication Summer 2019.


Exclusive Excerpt!


At some point, I must have fallen asleep.

I say that for two reasons. First, my chin was wet with drool, and I hardly ever slobber on myself when I’m awake. And second, I was no longer on Earth.

I sat bolt upright and stared out the window as distant stars whizzed past in a blur. There were no planets in sight, and judging by the swirling purple nebula ahead of me, this wasn’t the way to Nana’s house. I checked the navigation screen and felt my mouth drop open. The flashing beacon that represented my ship was halfway between Earth and Fasti.

(So you see, it is totally possible to steal a spaceship on accident.)

I guess my hand hit the EXECUTE button when I fell asleep. And because it would take just as long for me to turn around and go home as it would to finish my journey, it made sense to keep going, right? Either way, my parents would ground me into the afterlife, so I might as well earn the sentence, right?

Right.

An electric thrill rushed through my veins when I thought about the possibilities that lay ahead of me. Anything could happen on this trip. Literally anything. I could discover a brand-new element. Or meet a secret race of aliens. Or invent a new energy source. Or eat so much chocolate that I puked. Either way, I had complete freedom to make this journey into whatever I wanted, and once I realized that, there was no freaking way I could turn back. It was like the universe had dropped a gift in my lap, a gift I had no intention of returning.    

I wiped the drool off my chin and smiled.

“Hold onto your stars, Fasti. Here I come.”



About Melissa:

Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her kids. She lives just outside Cincinnati in the town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio.”


September 25, 2018

Cover Crush: Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge

I love book covers! I love walking around Barnes and Noble just looking at all the different covers.  

A good cover will make me pull the book off the shelf!  It's almost like I have a crush on them :)


Today I'm crushin' on:


About the Book:
Ivy Bloodgood’s mother is dead, and she should probably be sad about it. But she isn’t. Myra Bloodgood was confusing mix of protective and abusive, a manipulative personality who never told the truth—about where she came from, who Ivy’s father was, or why they were living their lives on the run.

Now that Ivy has been sent to Darkhaven, an island off the New England coast, to live with a rich uncle she didn’t know existed, she is forced to reckon with her mother’s past. Ivy can tell right away there are long-held family secrets buried within these walls, but when she wakes up from one of her nightmares covered in someone else’s blood, Ivy fears that whatever demons her mother battled while she was alive have come to roost in her own mind. Scared that she can no longer trust what she sees, Ivy seeks the help of a boy who thinks her episodes are connected to the sordid history of Darkhaven—but what they don’t know might kill them both.

Why I'm crushin':
Seriously this cover is so awesome.  I love how the smoke(?) curls around.  It makes it seem so mystical or magical.  Then when I follow it down I see the building and that makes me even more curious! Is it a house? A school?  It looks like it's out in the middle of nowhere, so then that makes me think it's eerie! And the tag: It's all in her head..... LOVE IT! Just a great cover all the way around! 

September 23, 2018

I'm a Cybils Judege!!!!


So very excited to share that I am a Cybils Round 1 judge for Middle-Grade Fiction!  I'm super honored to be a judge, and I can't wait to get exposed to a ton of new middle-grade books!


Here's my whole judging team:


Sarah Sammis

Julie Williams

Jill Lurie
The OWL 

Beth Mitchell

Brenda Kahn 

Debbie Tanner

Shannon Griffin




If you don't know about the Cybils Award here's a bit from their website.

Cybils Awards MissionThe Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.

Book nominations start October 1st and run through October 15th.  So go nominate books you think should be honored.  
Check HERE for all the info about the Cybils.  



Now for me - Let the reading begin!