March 27, 2018

Blog Tour: The Window by Amelia Brunskill - Review

Today I'm happy to be a part of the blog tour for:

The Window
by Amelia Brunskill

About the Book

Anna is everything her identical twin is not. Outgoing and athletic, she is the opposite of quiet introvert Jess. The same on the outside, yet so completely different inside--it's hard to believe the girls are sisters, let alone twins. But they are. And they tell each other everything.

Or so Jess thought.

After Anna falls to her death while sneaking out her bedroom window, Jess's life begins to unravel. Everyone says it was an accident, but to Jess, that doesn't add up. Where was Anna going? Who was she meeting? And how long had Anna been lying to her?

Jess is compelled to learn everything she can about the sister she thought she knew. At first it's a way to stay busy and find closure . . . but Jess soon discovers that her twin kept a lot of secrets. And as she digs deeper, she learns that the answers she's looking for may be truths that no one wants her to uncover.

Because Anna wasn't the only one with secrets.

So I'm a sucker for any book that has twists and turns and gets me questioning everything and everyone.  When I was offered the chance to review this book for the blog tour I knew I needed to because it seemed to have all of that.  And let me tell you - it did!  I'm going to keep things a little vague, so there isn't a chance I'll give something away.  I think what was most intriguing was how it wasn't just one layer of secrets and twists but many.  It was the case of thinking - just like Jess - that ah ha! I've got but then finding it all twisted around again.  That type of story keeps me reading!

But there was more than that.  I liked Jess.  She was real.  Her emotions.  Her reactions - they were all real.  I totally bought into her as a character.  And I really liked how Brunskill had her grow over the course of the of the book.  I really saw her mature.  She had to go through a lot to get there, and I felt for her.  But I really did like the character development.  By the end of the story, she had much more depth and strength to her. 

Final thoughts: Twists and turns galore but even more than that! 

Media Center Thoughts:  I'd put in the media center for the 8th graders.  I think they'd really enjoy it. 

March 23, 2018

Two Mini Review: Dog Books!

So in the media center animal books are very popular.  Kittens, sloths, baby anything, rabbits - kids love them all.  

When I was offered the opportunity to review two books about dogs I had to say yes.  

Title: It's a Puppy Life
By: Seth Casteel

Have you ever wanted to know what goes on in the life of one of nature's most beloved animals--the puppy? Follow along in this picture book featuring the photography of Seth Casteel.

Follow several puppies as they play, go for walks, eat, sleep, and romp about.

This book could not be any cuter!!! Adorable.  Adorable. Adorable.  I have three dogs, and this book made me want about 10 more!  It is fill with wonderful full color photographs of puppies doing all kinds of things from chasing a ball to taking a nap.  I think each page I said "awwwwwwww".  This book will be a huge hit in the library.  

I also liked that it was a book to read not just to look at.  It's just simple little text about being a puppy and everything they do.  I can see parent and kids reading this one over and over.
To top it off - at the end are pictures of all the dogs with what breed they are.  Perfect for when you weren't perfectly sure! 

Title: Dog Days of History
By: Sarah Albee

What is it we love about dogs so much? From ancient times to the present, dogs have guarded us, worked with us, marched off to war with us, and of course, just sat on the couch with us for a cuddle. Throughout the course of human history, this partnership deepened from dogs doing a service into friendship. Dogs have been by our side through it all, and this book tracks our common story from wild wolves in ancient civilizations to modern-day breeds, highlighting famous pooches of the past and present along the way.

Very cool book.  I have a Bichon Poodle mix, and I know they were, in the past, dogs that royalty would often have.  They were kept to eat the scrapes that fell on the floor! So it was really fun to see some other dogs through history.  It starts back in ancient times showing how dogs in things like hieroglyphics were portrayed compared to now.  It was amazing to see how accurate they were! As they continued through history is was also fun to see how dogs were used in paintings and advertisements.  It really showed that our love for dogs isn't just a current thing.  People have found companionship from dogs throughout history.  Yes, of course, they have been used for getting work done as well, but it was so neat to see how people have loved dogs always! Great book that I think kids will love as well.  They can pick and chose what time periods they want to read about - skipping around in the book as needed.  

March 9, 2018

Audo Book Review: Tiara on the Terrace by Kristen Kittscher

Title: Tiara on the Terrace
Author: Kristen Kittscher
Narrator: Amanda Philipson
Sophie Young and Grace Yang have been taking it easy ever since they solved the biggest crime Luna Vista had ever seen. But things might get interesting again now that everyone is gearing up for the 125th annual Winter Sun Festival—a town tradition that involves floats, a parade, and a Royal Court made up of local high school girls.

When Festival president Jim Steptoe turns up dead on the first day of parade preparations, the police blame a malfunctioning giant s'more feature on the campfire-themed float. But the two sleuths are convinced the mysterious death wasn't an accident.

Young and Yang must trade their high tops for high heels and infiltrate the Royal Court to solve the case. But if they fail, they might just be the next victims.

Growing up I loved a good solid mystery.  Ones like Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden or the Bobbsey Twins.  I'm sure there were more, but those are the ones I always remember.  Tiara on the Terrace fell solidly into that category.  It was a great little mystery that had me guessing the whole time! Yes I figure out a few small things BUT so many things I thought I knew just turned out to be wrong!  I loved that.  A few times I caught myself thinking "No way! I didn't see that coming!". I can't ask for much more in a book.  The book did offer more though.  I loved the friendship between the two girls and the growing pains it is facing.  I found it very realistic.  At that age kids do start liking different things that might not be the same as the best friend they've always had.  And it was handled so well.  Watching girls of this age go through similar things I complete bought into their friendship and what it goes through in the book.

Oh can I also say the book made me giggle a few times!  One of the other girls that is a Page in the royal court just made me giggle.  She's a tomboy but jumped right into all the girly things with gusto and humor.  LOVED HER!  

Thoughts for the library:  A resounding yes! It's a book I can recommend to so many kids, and it's my go-to book for those that love mysteries.

Thoughts on the audio book: As usual I had to get use to the female narrator, but once accustom to her voice she did a great job! 

Final Thought: Solid mystery. Great characters.  Fun read.  Now I need to read the first book! 

March 6, 2018

Blog Tour: The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller

I'm excited today to be a part of the blog tour for

The Science of Breakable Things!

Title: The Science of Breakable Things 
Author: Tae Keller

How do you grow a miracle? 
For the record, this is not the question Mr. Neely is looking for when he says everyone in class must answer an important question using the scientific method. But Natalie's botanist mother is suffering from depression, so this is The Question that's important to Natalie. When Mr. Neely suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie has hope. 

Eggs are breakable. Hope is not. 
Natalie has a secret plan for the prize money. She's going to fly her mother to see the Cobalt Blue Orchids--flowers that survive against impossible odds. The magical flowers are sure to inspire her mother to love life again. Because when parents are breakable, it's up to kids to save them, right?

There aren't many books for the middle grade group that does what this book does.  At it's heart it's a book about family and growing up.  Natalie's family is in a crisis.  Her mom is sick.  But it's not a sickness that involves hospitals, doctors and medicine.  It's not the kind of sickness that others understand.  Her mom is severely depressed - enough to keep her in bed and away from work.  Natalie is coping, on the surface, but deeper down the cracks are forming.  As with most kids, she doesn't completely understand what is happening and why.  And like what happens a lot - the adults around her think they're helping but they aren't.  It's through a science project that Natalie starts to sort through her reaction and understanding of her mother.  I liked how the project became the instrument.  I think for many kids that would be realistic.  They deal with a serious issue through something else.  

I liked Natalie.  Her reaction to things seemed realistic for the most part.  I do wonder if, as a 7th grader, if she would've went a bit more snarky.  But I do know that many 7th graders would be just like her.  I also liked how she didn't back away from everything and ignore it.  She found ways to deal whether that was through her science notebook or outright saying something to her dad.  She failed, struggled but stubbornly dug in.  I liked that.

The ending was good.  I felt it ended on a positive note, but not everything was sunshine and flowers.  It wasn't unrealistic.  You knew there was hope for Natalie and her family, but you also knew it wasn't going to be an easy road.  

Library Thoughts: I would get this for the media center.  I think more kids are see depression in their family or the families of their friends, so I think it's an important topic to represent. 

Final Thought: Shows in a simple way how depression affects a family in a realistic way that would be good for middle schoolers.  

About the author

TAE KELLER grew up in Honolulu, where she wrote stories, ate Spam musubis, and participated in her school’s egg drop competition. (She did not win.) After graduating from Bryn Mawr College, she moved to New York City to work in publishing, and she now has a very stubborn Yorkie and a multitude of books as roommates.