Saturday, June 30, 2012

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina is just a girl with mixed blood.  She didn't choose to be born.  And she didn't choose to have dragon blood either...

Random House Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this ebook for review (thank you).  It will be published on July 10th and if you like fantasy and dragons, you need this book!

Dragons have always caught my interest (so do demons, but regular blog followers already know that).  I fully expected to like this story, but I have to say it's more than that:  I love it!

Seraphina has dragon characteristics she must hide.  If anyone sees her scales, she'll probably be killed.  Her other problem is that she has emotions and dragon's don't.  Combine these and you get a mixed up young woman who is trying to hide her light under a bushel and is not interested in love because it is impossible for her.  Dragons and humans don't normally have children and she believes she is sterile and can't have children of her own.  So why get involved with men?

Her Uncle is a dragon in human form and he has been helping her deal with her situation.  He's also teaching her music and she has great talent in that.  So much so, that she gets a job at the palace as an assistant to their musician.  This is where the story starts to get complex.

This author writes a well woven story with complex characters and multiple plots intertwined.  There are spies, censors, a radical group against the dragons, an assassination attempt, a forbidden love, and even other half-dragons.

I anxiously read this whole story and had empathy for almost everyone (not grandfather).  They were all so powerful and so vulnerable at the same time.  At the end, I didn't want to say goodbye.  I also know the story isn't done yet.  So I was happy to see the next book is coming out in fall of next year.  That's a long wait, but I won't forget Seraphina and her friends.  I'll be watching for it.

Happy reading.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hey Canada by Vivien Bowers

Why don't you settle back in a comfortable chair and take a tour of Canada filled with photos, fun facts, oddments and humor?

Tundra Books invited me to be part of the blog tour on this book in honor of Canada Day (thank you). 
I've always enjoyed reviewing Tundra's children's books because their authors always find a way to make them interesting and fun to read.  This one was no disappointment.  I read it and enjoyed it.  (Said by someone who tries not to read any non-fiction; I'm always looking for fiction/fantasy reads where I can escape the real world.)

This material is very nicely put together.  Lots of tidbits of history, photos to enhance the info, Cal's odd tidbits (he's Mr. Factual), a short graphic story to help you remember what you learned, a Find It challenge in each new story, and a really cool way to see the sights and learn about each province as Gran, Alice and Cal travel across Canada.

I have to admit my favorite character was the hamster.  Cal snuck him in the car and they were on their way before Gran discovered him.  The hamster has more adventures before they get back home.

This is a fun read with hints on things to see in each province and a short historical background as well.  This would also be a great resource for finding subjects for history class.  Whether it's a book report or a diorama, there's plenty of interesting things to choose from in this book.

Here is another excellent way to teach history to young ones without it seeming like work.  It's not boring, it maintains your interest, and it has humor imbedded in it.  Why not share Canada with your child?

Happy reading.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Advent by James Treadwell

Gav knew he could see things no one else could.  His parents told him he was making up stories and not to talk about it with them or anyone else.

Atria Books and Net Galley gave me a copy of this ebook to read for review (thank you).  The book will be published next week and it is the beginning of a new series.  Make a note to pick it up if you like magic and high adventure.

The premise for this story is intriguing and interesting.  A great mage from the 1500's is seeking immortality and power and he doesn't care who he hurts or kills along the way.  Gav is living in the present day and knows nothing of this battle between a goddess and a mage.  He just knows Miss Grey visits him.  And his parents think he's seeing things.

When he gets sent to his aunt's house for the summer so his parents can travel, he finds no one to greet him at the train station and no one home at her house.  That's just the beginning of strange events...

I enjoyed this story a lot, but I found the author was a bit verbose.  Other readers may enjoy the history and lengthy descriptions of the past, but I found it took a bit away from the current story.  I will admit my preferred mode of reading is short stories, so that probably prejudices my opinion.  

Gav turns out to be Gawain, he meets a mermaid, and he loses the mermaid's daughter.  There are three main young characters involved in this quest for magic and I found it easy empathize with them.  They are protected (although they don't realize it) and when they act on their own and open the door to danger, the action picks up and takes off.  I kept reading to see what happened and how it resolved itself.  This book is the first one in the series and I know Gawain and his friends will be back and still fighting evil in the next book.

If you'd like to walk on the wild side of magic, this book will take you there.  Why not give it a read and see what you think?

Happy reading.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Endangered by Ann Littlewood

Iris was assigned the duty of picking up exotic animals that were in a remote location and discovered during a drug bust.  It was just a routine assignment.  It turned out to be a very dangerous assignment before it was over.

Poisoned Pen Press and Net Galley allowed me to download this story to read for review (thank you).  The book will be published next week, so if you've been waiting for the next one in this zoo mystery series now is the time to buy.

Iris is trying to find information about who is running the illegal endangered species ring.  She hates seeing the animals mistreated and not fed right.  What she finds is a dead body.  If that wasn't bad enough, the father and his two big sons confront her at the farm.  When the father has a heart attack and dies right in front of her, she thinks it can't get much worse.   It does though, quite a bit worse...

I really enjoyed reading about the animals and their care.  The most interesting twist in this story is that there is another unknown member of this family.  The father would pick up "strays"; a young woman or man who was alone and unattached and in trouble.  He then took them home and added them to his family.  He had taken in one girl and one young man.  The extra young man is the most dangerous and no one knows who he is.  They just know he's still there, probably in plain sight, and he's willing to kill to get what he wants.

The ending was exciting and suspenseful.  There will be more in this series.  Iris has friends in an almost obsessive relationship and she's developing a new love interest herself.  I'm interested in seeing what kind of mystery she will be solving next, so I'll be watching for the next book.

Happy reading.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Burrows by Reavis Z Wortham

Ned has retired as constable but that doesn't mean people have stopped calling him when there's trouble.  Now he just calls Cody as he's going out so he can join him.

Poisoned Pen Press and Net Galley allowed me to download an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  This book will be published July 3rd, so look for a copy next week at your local bookstore.

This is second book in the Red River Mystery series.  This story gave me chills.  It has two my worst fears in it and Cody, the new constable has to deal with them.  He's had military experience with caves and booby traps, but this challenge is even worse because the killer is insane.

Set in a small back water community where everyone knows everyone and kin is tight, a mad killer can hide.  Kin won't give up kin.  On the other hand, the killer was living in town right in plain sight because he has the perfect disguise.

The chilling part of the story for me was when Cody had to crawl through tunnels in a hoarder's warehouse building to get to the killer.  It's dark, there are traps, animals and other dangers on the way.  It's good thing he had company or he'd never have come out of there alive.

As he crawls through the stuff of my nightmares and meets other fears of mine, the story really made me shiver.  It won't do that to everyone because my fears are my own, but I think you'll still be able to relate to the situation and the danger Cody and John face.

There is also a very unusual twist at the end that I didn't see coming.  This is not a boring story.  It's well worth a read.  And I'm looking forward to another installment in this series.  These characters aren't through telling their stories yet.

Happy reading.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The 13th Target by Mark de Castrique

Rusty Mullins has left intelligence work and now works for a security agency.  He's a bodyguard to a very important man.  He also knows this man would not have committed suicide, no matter how it looked.

Poisoned Pen Press and Net Galley allowed me to read an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  It will be published July 3rd, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore next week.

Rusty didn't want to do intelligence work anymore.  His wife had died from cancer and his daughter and grandson need him and he needs them.  Security work is safer.  Or at least it was supposed to be.

This story mirrors the economic conditions we have in our country currently.  It references the collapses in Greece and Italy.  The elephant in the room is the Federal Reserve.  Not everyone is happy with the money flow, the issue of transparency, and the idea of full disclosure.  This results in a complex plot with a lot of players.

When Rusty is allowed to pursue the murder, he doesn't realize that is to keep him busy and out of the way of the bigger operation.  He's smart, though, he begins to see things aren't what they seem.

As a reader, I was wary of all the characters, too.  Someone was feeding the other side information.  Someone was making things happen on this side.  And there were lots of choices on who that might be.

I don't usually enjoy this type of story but this one drew me in.  I found myself rooting for Rusty and worrying about how many more would die before the story ended.  Rusty didn't disappoint me.  I'm sure he won't disappoint you either.

Happy reading.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Plain Death by Amanda Flower

Chloe is moving to a small Amish community to work as the manager of the computer security department for a small college.  She's very thankful for the job and only plans to stay for two years and move on to something better.  She sure never expected to get involved in murder...

B & H Publishing Group and Net Galley gave me the opportunity to read this ebook for review (thank you).  It will be published on the first of July, so add it to your TBR list and get ready to read another Amish mystery that is well written and interesting.  This is the beginning of a new series:  Appleseed Creek Mystery #1.

As Chloe is driving into town and looking for her rental, she comes across a young Amish woman walking by the side of the road and being harrassed by two men in a green pickup.  She intervenes and picks up Becky to save her from danger.  She didn't expect Becky to move in with her. Of course, she might never have gotten to know Tim, Becky's older brother, if she didn't have Becky living with her, so it wasn't all bad.

Chloe's problems start when Becky borrows her car and has an awful accident, killing the Bishop.  Becky didn't have a license, she said the brakes failed, everyone was angry at Chloe for not maintaining her car, and then it gets worse.  The brakeline was cut and it was no accident.

I like the Amish touch, the mystery was a good one, and there is a romance budding between Chloe and Tim.  While this mystery may have been solved, the Deacon is still very angry with Chloe and he's a danger to her because he can hurt Tim and Becky's family through Amish traditions and beliefs.  I think the next book in the series will be even more interesting.  I'll be watching for it.

Happy reading.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman

Boy and Bot are friends and care about each other.  However, they have this small misunderstanding they need to clear up...

Knopf sent me a copy of this children's picture book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can get a copy at your local bookstore.

I wondered what Ms. Dyckman was going to do with a Bot in a children's story.  She very pleasantly surprised me with a cute tale about the differences between the two.  Dan Yaccarino did the illustrations and they're great.  The Bot looks like metal and the Boy has freckles on his nose and spiky hair.  You can see why they are attracted to each other.

Boy thinks the Bot is broke when it's turned off.  Bot thinks the Boy is malfunctioning when he sleeps.  The only way to solve this misunderstanding is to discuss it.  Sounds a lot like real life, doesn't it?

This is a cute tale any little one should do enjoy.  The bright illustrations will draw them in and the tale will entertain them.

Happy reading.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Zamoof! My World. My Magazine.

I've met a lot of interesting authors and publishers on Twitter, so when I saw a children's magazine named Zamoof I decided to follow them, too.  We've chatted a couple of time and they sent me three of their magazines for me to "taste" their work.  (Thank you!)

When I was young, I loved getting magazines.  There weren't many offered, but I lived for the day a new issue would be in my mailbox.  So I read it in fifteen minutes, it was still new reading material and had word puzzles and the like in it.  I could read it over and over again until it was ratty and starting to fall apart.  By then, the new issue would come in.

These magazines remind me a lot of the ones I used to read.  The letters to the editor are written by children.  The pages are filled with facts, recipes, cartoons, and games.  There is an ongoing series of a couple of graphic stories, true stories, articles that are particularly tuned to children, and movie information and posters.  They are very colorful, well-put-together, and guaranteed to grab your child's attention.

They also accept submissions from children.  Visit this website to get all the particulars:  Zamoof 

Whether you have a child between 7-12 who would enjoy reading and completing the games in this magazine or who would prefer to write their own stories or about their own experiences, this is a really good resource for you.  Why not check it out?  

Here's where you can get more info and where you can subscribe: 

Happy reading.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Long Earth by Terry Ptatchett and Stephen Baxter

Create yourself an odd looking little step stool that uses a potato for energy, and you can step across time...

Harper sent me a copy of this ARC for review (thank you).  It is being published this month, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

I found this to be a very different science fiction story.  It contains a lot of characters, many earths, and artificial intelligence.  There are those who need the step mechanism with the potato and get sick upon their arrival in another time and place on earth and there are those who can step naturally and have no side affects.  There is still danger though.  You find yourself stuck in the terrain, in a herd of animals, or falling off a cliff.

While we follow the main character and his buddy, the A. I. Tibetian, they travel through time and space and study the areas, the animals, and the weather they encounter.  One thing they notice is that there are trolls that are travelling too.

It's an usual tale and you visit a lot of earths.  The ending wasn't definitive to me, but that may be because there is sequel planned.  Otherwise, you'll have to use your imagination to figure out how all this is going to play out.

It's wordy, but not boring.  If you like science fiction and have been waiting for another Pratchett book, this one is for you.  If the idea of having endless earth's stacked up horizontally intrigues you, you'll enjoy this story, too.

If you'd like my ARC of this book, please leave a comment here on my blog and then email at info @ with your name and address and why you'd like to read this book.  I'll pick a winner in about a week.

Happy reading.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Someone Bad and Something Blue by Miranda Parker

Angel Crawford reminds a bit of Stephanie Plum.  She's a bounty hunter, finds herself caught between an attraction to two men, and she's rough and tough and still seems be in trouble a lot.

Dafina, a division of Kensington Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It will be published at the end of this month. The first book in this series was "A Good Excuse to Be Bad" and I missed that one.  This one reads fine alone.

It was just what I needed:  a fun rumble in the jungle with cool characters and plenty of action.  Angel is supposed to be getting ready to be in a wedding and she's busy running after a killer.  After all, her fiance's murder is still unsolved and she thinks she knows who the killer is.  But that doesn't go well with wedding plans.

This is a story full of family, lots of drama, a couple of romantic interests, and murder.  It reads fast, keeps your attention and makes you laugh at times.  It also snags your interest enough I'm already looking forward to the next book in the series.  After all, which hot male is going to win the contest to get Angel's heart?

Happy reading.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri

Nora is happily married to the youngest attorney general in Massachusetts when she finds out he's having an affair.  With her life falling apart, newspaper journalists everywhere, and Malcolm not coming home at night, she makes the decision to go to the family beach house on the coast of Maine for the summer.  She packs her daughters and herself up and heads for the home she left behind at the age of five. 

Harper Collins sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It was published in May, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore now.

Nora is crushed by her husband's defection, but she isn't sure if she wants to divorce him or have him move back home.  Her youngest daughter doesn't seem to be much affected by the turmoil, but the oldest daughter is very resentful and wants her father back in the family.  This is enough of a challenge for Nora, but she has some devils of her own to deal with here at the seashore.  This is place where her mother disappeared when she was five.  She was never seen again.  No one knew what happened to her.

Staying in this beach house means the past comes to meet with the present and nothing is exactly like it seems.  Will Nora be able to heal here, or will this just make it worse?

The story is well written, has a bit fantasy in it, and sounds all too like a family facing divorce.  If you want to see how Nora deals with her family matters (past and present), you'll need to grab this book and settle yourself into your "beach" chair for a read.

If you'd like to win my ARC, leave a comment here on the blog and email at info at with your name and address and why you'd like to read this book.  I'll pick a winner in about a week.

Happy reading.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip

She's young, beautiful, has been taught to please a man and she also knows how to kill one.  Skeleton women are spies sent to get secrets from those high in power.  If necessary, she's to kill the lover.  It matters not if she dies in the attempt...

Kensington Books sent me an ARC of this book for review.  It was published at the end of May, so you can get a copy at your local bookstore now.

Camilla was an orphan, so she was perfect to train for this role.  She had no one to care about what happened to her, she was "adopted" young and trained for the consort/assassin position for half her life.  And now it's time for her to do her duty.

Master Lung admires her singing and soon takes her as his consort.  She does what she needs to do but takes no joy from it.  He's old, looks like a monkey, and has strange sexual needs.  But he's a rival gang member and she has to find his secrets so Big Brother Wang can take over his territory.

Her problems begin when his son returns home from Harvard and he takes an interest in her. She also meets two more skeleton women, and a body guard falls in love with her.  All this is more than a young woman can handle.

This is an intriguing story.  The Shanghai background is credible and interesting; the story flows well; and you begin to feel sorry for Camilla and her problems completing her mission.

I had a few unanswered questions at the end.  I think this a stand-alone book, so I will have decide what I think happens in the future.  Or the author may surprise me with a sequel.  I'd like that.

Why not take a walk in Shanghai and see the sights, meet the other Skeleton women, and think about what you do in Camilla's place?

If you'd like my copy of this ARC, please leave a comment here on my blog and then email me at info at with your name and address.  I'll pick a winner in about a week.

Happy reading.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Quest for the Secret Keeper by Victoria Laurie

This is the third in the Oracles of Delphi Keep series.  I've read all three and they are all good reads.

Delacorte Press sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It was published in February, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore.  If you haven't heard about this series before, I'd suggest getting all the books for your young reader.  This is a series that grabs your attention and makes you want to see how things are going to work out.  There's plenty of excitement in each book.

In this story Ian, Theo and Carl find they can no longer remain in the keep.  Soldiers have taken it over for the injured who need medical attention.   This means that they will have to move to the winter house, which is not as safe as the keep.

Ian gets accused of being a spy, they end with gods walking the earth with them, and the danger is always present.  The ones from the past have knowledge they can't share.  The children are trying to follow the prophecy but aren't sure how to interpret it.  Time is running out; will they complete their quest?

Happy reading.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Maddy's Floor by Dale Mayer

Maddy has an ability to help people heal.  She has even been given her own floor at the hospital.  Most patients are terminal, but she makes them comfortable and lets them enjoy their final days.  Then her patients begin to die early for no apparent reason...

The author sent me an ebook of this story for review.  I enjoy Ms. Mayer's books, so I was pleased to get it.  You can buy this ebook on Amazon now.

Maddy knows there is something evil encroaching on her floor, but it looks like black smoke and she has no idea where it's coming from.  She also knows the person causing it does not want to be stopped.

Ms. Mayer adds a bit of romance in with the mystery, which I found very enjoyable.  Drew is a detective working cold cases and his Aunt and Uncle are in the hospital. 

The actual mystery began almost twenty years ago, and trying to find how it's all related and who the murderer is a very dangerous thing to do.  The hospital has several people who were involved in some way, so it makes following the black smoke's path very difficult.  It seems each character is carrying some sort of secret with them.

The ending is dramatic and forceful.  You won't fall asleep reading this book.  Why not pick up a copy and see what you think about it?  I enjoyed it.

Happy reading.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Bird Saviors by William J Cobb

Ruby likes watching the birds.  She knows people fear them because they think they carry the virus, but she's not sure that's true.  Since there aren't many left, she develops her own names for them.  The names reflect their personalities.  Then she sees an ad that says someone is looking for an assistant to help them count birds...

Unbridled Books and Net Galley allowed me to download this ebook for review (thank you).  It has just been published, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore.

Ruby is a young woman living at home with her father and her baby girl.  Her mother has moved out.  Her father is a very controlling male who believes his decisions are superior.  He's also a Mormon who has created his own group of followers and spouts religious quotes all day.  He feels he's the only one who can pick a good man for his daughter to marry.  His choice is a pawn shop owner that already has two wives and is a lot older than Ruby.  She's not impressed.

The other characters in this story are all mix and match.  Some good, some bad, some in between.  Nothing goes exactly like anyone had planned and folks here aren't living happily ever after.  When you get pink snow and life is fragile and hard scrabble, folks get mean.

I was a bit surprised to see a man had written this story.  He has very good insight in human character and offered honest reactions from both sexes.

Everything is a bit off in this dystopian world, including the characters.  It's an interesting read.

Happy reading.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Dad is the Best Playground by Luciana Navarro Powell

Need a gift to share with your family on Father's Day?  Look no further!

Robin Corey Books sent me a copy of this book to review as part of their Blog Tour (thank you).  This book is available at your local bookstore now.

I really enjoy children's books that talk about family and how much fun you can have with each other.  Ms. Powell has taken small games you can do with an adult that are interactive and will make you laugh.  My favorite game with my Dad was to play ride the horsie.  He'd cross his legs, I'd sit on his foot, and he'd bounce me.  And I'd laugh and laugh. What great memories.  Why not make some of your own?

As part of the tour, I gave Ms. Powell some interview questions to answer.  She did a very nice job of expanding on the questions and giving you more information about herself and her writing.

Here is the interview:

1.  How long have you been writing and illustrating? 

I have been illustrating professionally for about 15 years. Writing is a much more recent adventure, I have been doing it for about a year and a half.

2.  How many books have you had published?

I have illustrated lots of stories for textbooks over the past 8 years, for publishers like Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I illustrated a bilingual board book called "I Take Care of Myself" for Me+Mi Publishing a few years ago, and last year I illustrated a bedtime book app for the iPad called "Goodnight Safari" for Polk Street Press. The companion book for "Dad" will be published next year, called "My Mom is the Best Circus", that I also wrote and illustrated. My last project was doing the art for a series of 4 board books about dinosaurs  called "Alphasaurus", "Colorasaurus", "Countasaurus" and "Shapeasaurus", for Chronicle Books, they will be out in July, September and October of this year.

3.  I noticed this book is dedicated to your husband.  How many children do you have?

I joke that I have 3 boys, ages 3, 5 and 40. The 40 year-old was the inspiration for this story.  (I love this.  What man ever grows up???)

4.  Did you get the idea for this book from watching your family?

The spark that ignited the idea happened one night when I was tucking my sons into bed and my husband got home late from work. He was later than usual so he missed our bedtime routine, but he was still full of energy and eager to play with them. I remember thinking "oh great, they are going to get all riled up again, here comes the playground!" As you know it's hard work to get kids settled down and ready for bed, so I was a bit annoyed with this sudden burst of energy.  However, I was still happy to see them play and have always been fascinated by how kids and their fathers play more physically and with more freedom than they do with us mothers- who are usually worried about someone getting hurt!  So this book is a celebration of the unique father-child relationship as it relates to the playground experience, a constant in the lives of young families.

5.  Did your Daddy play these kind of games with you?  (Mine did "ride the horsie" on his foot.)

I have very fond memories of playing "airplane" with my dad when I was 5 or 6 years of age. It was a Sunday morning routine. My middle brother and I would run to my parent's bed in the morning, and we would take turns on the "airplane". He would place us belly down on his shins, lie on his back and hold our hands, our arms stretched open, then with a rolling motion we would "take off", with sound effects and all. It was lovely, I can still remember our laughter!

6.  Do you plan to write more children's books or do you have something else in mind?

Yes, I got the writing bug now... I have new stories bouncing around my head, asking to be written.

7.  Are your own children excited about seeing your story in book form?

They were very excited, because they watched the whole process from sketching to final art. It was great when they were finally able to touch the real books. I hope they now understand a little bit better what I do. Before the books arrived all they could see was mom sitting at her office for hours and hours, drawing in her computer, they were probably thinking "THAT is work?"

8.  Where do you plan to go from here?  What's next?

I am in the early stages of writing my next book right now, in the very first draft. A little later this month I will start to illustrate a series of book apps for the iPad (I illustrated my very first app last year, a lovely bedtime story called "Goodnight Safari" by Polk Street Press), and any fun project that comes up and calls for my art style!

She sure sounds like a neat person to me.  What favorite family game did you have in your family?  Didn't remembering that make you smile?  Grab yourself a copy of this book and start making your own children's memories...

Happy reading.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Poopendous by Artie Bennett

Artie Bennett is back again; this time he's writing about poop...

Blue Apple has published Mr. Bennett's second book, which is a fun read for little ones.  Check at your local bookstore for a copy.  Mr. Bennett sent me the book for review (thank you).  His earlier book was great, so I knew this one would be, too.

The cover says:  The Inside Scoop on Every Type and Use of Poop.  What more could you want?

As much as none of us like to step in it and most of us don't like to talk about it, this book is full of fun facts about what animals poop looks like, how it can be used, and it's all done in a silly way that gets the point across but isn't offensive.

I haven't met a child yet that doesn't like to talk about subjects you'd rather not.  Here's a great opportunity to let the child talk about poop and learn something along the way.  How can you go wrong?

Happy reading.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Jasper Jones is a half-caste, part aborigine.  He only comes to school to participate in sports and he's very good at that.  But when he gets in trouble, he goes to the only boy he thinks may be able to help him...

Ember, a division of Random House Teens, sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It's available at your local bookstore now.  It has also won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature as an Honor Book.

Charlie is willing to help Jasper but when he gets to Jasper's secret place, he's shocked and scared by what Jasper shows him.  So is Jasper, and it's even worse because they both know the girl. Jasper is smart enough to know the local cops will blame him for her murder.  He's sure it can't be suicide.  So he asks Charlie to help him prove he wasn't the killer.

This is a complex story with a variety of unpleasant subjects.  Jasper is not treated well by anyone because of his mixed heritage, the dead girl had some secrets of her own, and this small town soon erupts in suspicions and fear.

Mature young readers will enjoy this tale set in Australia.  Mr. Silvey pulls no punches and shows everyone's warts in this story.  It has the feeling of honesty and that's what makes it so sad.  It's not a story one will soon forget.

Happy reading.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Olivia Bean Trivia Queen by Donna Gephart

Olivia is good at all her subjects except geography.  And she's not just "not good", she's awful!

Delacorte Press sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

I actually thought reading this book would be boring.  I'm not overly fond of trivia (and I sure am no good at it), so why would this story appeal to me?  Mostly because of Olivia.  

Ms. Gephart makes her a good-natured kid that has a love for trivia and her family.  Her neighbor boy teases her, her Dad has divorced her Mom and moved away with the neighbor woman and her Olivia's best girlfriend, Neil has moved in (and she doesn't want to like him), and she can't have any quiet time to watch Jeopardy anymore.

She's having a hard time adjusting to all the changes, but she's not willing to give up a chance to be on Jeopardy during Kid's Week.  After all, she's 12 this year and that's the oldest you can be to apply. When her Mom loses her job, it's almost the last straw... 

I didn't do real well answering the trivia questions in this book either, but I did enjoy reading it.  Geography wasn't one of my best subjects so I could understand Olivia's pain.

If you have another trivia lover, a wordmaster, or just a child who likes reading about others their age, this a good read for them.  The trauma is downplayed and Olivia learns her family supports her and who really cares about her as she has this adventure.  It's too bad it's not that plain to all of us...

Happy reading.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nocturnal by Jami Lynn Saunders

In a search to find their parents, Pippa and Abby have been traveling cross-country through danger.  There are ferals everywhere, roads are in bits and pieces and food and water is scarce.  Despite that, they are making progress.  Then Abby goes feral...

711 Press shared this ebook with me for a review.  I have already read the first two books in this series and was anxious to see how Ms. Saunders wrapped up her story.  The whole series has been published now, so you can get it all at one time and don't have to wait, like I did.

These stories are suggested for young adults but, in my opinion, they need to be mature young adults.  The violence and monsters depicted in these stories could bother a young one.

The author writes a fast paced story filled with paranormal creatures who show no one any mercy.  The fights are ruthless, love is an afterthought, and their mission looks hopeless.  But Pippa and Abby and their friends don't give up easily.

I found this series an interesting read.  You won't be bored.  You'll mourn the dead, root for the living, and wonder how this could work out for anyone.  You'll have to read the story to see...

Happy reading.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Queen of Water by Laura Resau, Maria Viriginia Farinango

What made the most impact on me while I was reading this book was the knowledge that this novel is based on a true story.  As I've heard it said:  Sometimes truth can be stranger than fiction.

Random House Teen Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can find a copy at local bookstore now.

Virginia was born in a small Andean village in Ecuador and lived in an earthen-walled dwelling.  Her family ate potatoes for the most part; meat was only eaten on special occasions.  Virginia never got the big potato either, it always went to a special visitor or her Papito.  She helps in the fields and sees no life ahead of her except more of the same.  Then everything changes...

Her parents send her away with a more wealthy family who assured them all sorts of riches and treats would be given to her in her home.  They just wanted her to take care of their child.  What they really wanted was a slave and she got none of the promised items.

This is the true fictionalized story of Ms. Farinango's life.  You really feel her pain from physical abuse to the emotional trauma about who she is, where she is now, and who she would like to be.  What she's left behind is still part of her, but does she want to admit her past?

I found this to be a very interesting insight into practices in other countries.  I already knew life was different on the other side of the pond; my grandparents were immigrants.  My grandmother was basically given to my grandfather as a bride because he offered goods for her.  Poor people do many things just for survival.  This is the story of a young girl who grew into a beautiful woman and overcame the challenges she faced.  Think you'd be so brave?  

Why not let your young adult read this book and talk about the things that happen in it?  I think it would be eye-opening for both of you.

Happy reading. 

The Golden Quest by David Delisle

The Golden Quest is a graphic novel about a young boy who embarks on a Hero’s Journey with his dog Shelby to discover the Golden Rules of Mo...