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Viewing Blog: Milk and Cookies: Comfort Reading, Most Recent at Top
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A middle school librarian who reviews Mg and YA books.
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1. July 31-Currently

reading:  I read I AM PRINCESS X by Cherie Priest this past week.  I really enjoyed it!  The cover, being all pink and purple, makes it seem like it's going to be a light hearted story, it wasn't.  But it was just good.
watching: The Walking Dead. This winter Scott started watching this series and although I had watched the first season, I stopped partway through the second season. So while he was watching it I kind of got interested again.  Spent this past week watching it and am not ready for the season 5 marathon in August.
listening: Start Up was a very interesting podcast about a guy starting a media company.  His company produces the podcast I was listening to last week, Reply All. This one was quite fascinating.
writing: I got some new pens this week so I of course had to write with every single one!

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2. My Thoughts: Some Adult Books I Have Read

This was a great read, but not at all on par to READY PLAYER ONE by the same author.  (If you haven;t read that yet, what are you waiting for).  This book is a bit of a genius story though--generations of people raised on video games and science fiction tales were actually being trained for an inter-galactic war.  I love that!  I love that everything people experience they can relate to a movie or tv show they watched or book they read or a game they played.  It is so much more satisfying that these things are real life (unlike the Walking Dead--how many words for zombies do they have that isn't "zombie"?).  I enjoyed this book, didn't read it near as fast as I did Ready Player One, and didn't love how neatly thing tied up in the end.  It will make a great movie someday!

I was not at all interested in reading THE MARTIAN until I saw the trailer for the movie.  That caught my interest and luckily I was able to get a copy from my library that day.  This was a fantastic read, a little slow when it was just Mark's log on Mars, but once NASA figured out Mark was alive this book just flew.  I can't wait for the movie.  The tension during some of the scenes in the book was so strong that I know seeing it on screen with totally stress me out.  Luckily I know how it all ends so watching it all will be a little easier for me!  Great story.  If you love science or survival stories, read this book.

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3. My Thoughts (& Giveaway): Stone Rider by David Hofmeyr

4 soft frosted sugar cookies.

Cover Love:  I like how it is simple but eye catching.  Appealing to many readers.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
This one actually flew under my radar until I was offered a chance to participate in the blog tour.  I looked up the synopsis and decided I wanted to give this one a try.
Here it is from GoodReads:
In the vein of The Outsiders and the early Western novels of Elmore Leonard, this inventive debut novel, a cross between the cult classic Mad Max movie series and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, blends adrenaline-fueled action with an improbable yet tender romance to offer a rich and vivid portrayal of misfits and loners forced together in their struggle for a better life.

Adam Stone wants freedom and peace. He wants a chance to escape Blackwater, the dust-bowl desert town he grew up in. Most of all, he wants the beautiful Sadie Blood. Alongside Sadie and the dangerous outsider Kane, Adam will ride the Blackwater Trail in a brutal race that will test them all, body and soul. Only the strongest will survive.

The prize? A one-way ticket to Sky-Base and unimaginable luxury.

And for a chance at this new life, Adam will risk everything.

Romance?: Not really, although Adam does have a crush during the book.

My Thoughts:

Dystopian books used to be my absolute favorite genre.  There have been some great ones--The Giver, The Hunger Games, Unwind, The City of Ember.  The problem is that The Hunger Games was so successful that the genre got diluted for awhile there.  (This doesn't count the books I consider "apocalyptic," like Rot & Ruin and The Knife of Never Letting Go).  So I have kept away from them for some time.  When I got a chance to be part of this blog tour I read the book synopsis and decided I wanted to give this dystopian book a chance.

And I am glad I did!  t set up a very interesting world, one that I want to learn more about.  Not necessarily the world of the "Left-Behinds" on earth, but the world of the Sky-Base.  That place sounds both amazing and awful.  I have a feeling that anyone who wins the right to move to the Sky Base don't really get to be part of the Sky Base.  I bet there is a lot of dystopia on the Sky Base.  I wouldn't mind a prequel book either.

Back to the story, each person involved in the race own a byke/motorcycle.  But they are made of a material that seems to remember previous riders and that adds to the abilities of the current rider.  Winners of the races win a ticket to Sky Base and the second and third place riders earn points that they can save up to eventually purchase a ticket.

The world Adam lives in before the race is awful and crazy and bleak.  Basically people can be miners (I can't remember the name of what is being mined, but they are pulling it from the earth's core) or have a job in town (and by town I mean old Western type town).  If you are young enough you can ride in the race.  This race reminds me of a novella I read a long time ago that was written by Stephen King back when he wrote under the pen name of Richard Bachman called The Long Walk.  It was the story of boys who walked, just walked, but if you fell or stopped walking you were shot and there could only be one winner.  Not everyone dies, but a lot of people do and it's ok to try and kill other riders.  The strong survive and all of that.

Adam literally doesn't have anyone.  He has no family and no friends.  However, a strange rider named Kane enters his life early on and although they don't connect right away, Kane soon becomes someone Adam realizes he can trust--warily.

The one thing that didn't quite jive with me is that Adam has no confidence, yet he is a really good rider.  One that many consider the one to beat.  And he knows he's good, he feels it.  That should give him some confidence, but he has a hard time making decisions.

To Sum Up:  This is a book that would appeal to many YA readers, especially those that like dystopian.  I have many questions about this world and look forward to book 2.  I will be adding it to my order for the fall!

I am giving away a copy of Stone Rider to one lucky reader from the US or Canada.  Please fill out the form below and I will inform you if you win.  Contest ends on August 12.
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4. Author Discussion: Kenneth Oppel

You are looking at one of my favorite series.  I just love the Airborn series by Kenneth Oppel.  I booktalk them, I re-read them, I have them displayed in prominent places in my library.  When I have a reader looking for something different I hand them one of these books.  But here's where it ends.  I have tried and tried to read other books by Kenneth Oppel and I just can't get into them!  It makes me so sad because I really love Airborn--I adore Matt Cruse and the story line is very cool.  By the third book the romance it super sweet.  This is an awesome series.  I really wish I could get into a few of his other series.  

Has this happen to you?  Is there an author that has one book or series you love but other books that you haven't gotten into?

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5. My Thoughts: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher

4 yummy frosted maple cookies.

Cover Love:  Sort of.  I like that it looks geeky and all, but there really is no math in this book.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
You know that contemporary teen romances are my bread and butter.  This one was mailed to me by Harper Collins in the spring and I decided to read it to help get me out of my reading slump!  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
It all begins when Ana Watson's little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.

If slacker Zak Duquette hadn't talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn't have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak's devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more.
Romance?: Yes, of course!

My Thoughts:
One reason I loved this book is because both Zak and Ana are so relate-able.  Zak is a geek with a capital G but so comfortable in that position.  He reminds me so much of one of my own children!  Ana is a hard working middle child who is terrified of upsetting her parents (who seems awfully hard to please).  While Zak is always on the look out for a girl and does have his eye on Ana, Ana knows she can't date so she doesn't even let herself be distracted.

I love the atmosphere of the Washingcon!  It totally makes me want to go to a convention.  I love that Zak is totally popular at the convention.  One subtle lesson in this book is that you cannot judge someone on the outside, both Ana and Zak learn this lesson well.

Some of the situations are totally outlandish, but this would make for a fun movie or TV movie.  You wouldn't even need to add action scenes because it is full of them already.

I like that one of the voices of reason is Ana younger brother.  He sees way more than anyone realizes.

The romance between Zak and Ana is super sweet, slow moving (in book time, but since this all takes place in one evening it's actually quick).  The author does a great job alternating between Zak and Ana and does a good job with both their voices. When an author does it well this is a great way of telling a story and developing a romance!

To Sum Up:  Sweet romance and a great story about high-shcoolers on the cusp of taking the next step in their lives.

Book sent by Harper Collins.  Thanks so much!

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6. July 20-Currently

reading:  giving Fangirl a try.  I adored Eleanor & Park and always hear amazing things about Rainbow Rowell's other books.  Plus, I love the cover!
writing:  to do lists and menu plan for company we are having later this week.  My husband's brother and his family from California are coming and we are super excited because they haven't been here for years!
watching:  cheesy, wonderful, romantic movies that I recorded earlier this summer.
listening: I listened to all of the Reply All podcasts this week and adored it.  Now I have to find another one.

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7. Weekend Reading #1

I actually got four books finished this past week which really helped me to get over my slump.  I am hoping to keep the ball rolling!  I started Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and since I am participating in a blog tour for School for Sidekicks I am starting that this weekend as well.
What are you reading this weekend?

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8. Currently...

reading:  The Martian.  This came out a few years ago and I wasn't that interested but recently they released the trailer for the movie and it looked so good I decided to pick up the book.  So far so good!
writing: I got a few new pens sets this summer and decided to do a pen inventory sheet.  Love them all!
watching:  If you have Hulu please give the show Miranda a try.  It is British and so very, very funny!
listening:  I loved the X-Files and this podcast touches on all the reasons that made it so great!

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9. My Thoughts: Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

3 soft chocolate whoopie pies.

Cover Love:
Yes!  I think it's eye catching and raises questions.  Made me want to read this book to see what it was about.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
The cover and the synopsis made me want to read this.  Here it is from Good Reads:
Gone Girl meets 13 Reasons Why in this stylish, sexy, and atmospheric story about friendship packed with twists and turns that will leave you breathless.

They say Delia burned herself to death in her stepfather's shed. They say it was suicide.

But June doesn't believe it.

June and Delia used to be closer than anything. Best friends in that way that comes before everyone else-before guys, before family. It was like being in love, but more. They had a billion secrets, tying them together like thin silk cords.

But one night a year ago, everything changed. June, Delia, and June's boyfriend Ryan were just having a little fun. Their good time got out of hand. And in the cold blue light of morning, June knew only this-things would never be the same again.

And now, a year later, Delia is dead. June is certain she was murdered. And she owes it to her to find out the truth...which is far more complicated than she ever could have imagined.

Sexy, dark, and atmospheric, Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls will keep you guessing until the very last page.
Romance?:  Nothing to get excited about, but that's not what this book was about.

My Thoughts:
There is a lot about this book that can't be discussed because it gives to much away.  Just know it is a very psychological book (however if I had read the synopsis a little more closely I might have guessed some of the twists).  So many times I wanted to just read the last few pages so I knew what happened, but I thought it would probably be worth it to keep going through.  (I do that sometimes when I am having trouble staying into a book--lots of time reading the ending will make me more interested in reading the middle to see how it ended up where it did!)

June does A LOT of infuriating things, and several times I wanted to reach into the book and just shake her and say,  "THINK!!"  She was just so easily led around by everyone!  Her memories of Delia are so weird, they truly were like one person.

There was a lot about this book that I found unbelievable, I wonder if the author did a lot of research.  I did find it interesting, fascinating even.  I was such a goody in high school I always like reading about ids who aren't.  But the kids in this book are not just partiers or out having sex, they are doing some really weird stuff.

Overall, it was an intriguing read, I was just left a little unsatisfied with the conclusion.  And a few things that happened before that.

To Sum Up:  If you want a read with an interesting twist, give this one a try.

ARC sent from Simon & Schuster.  Thanks so much!

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10. Let's Talk About These Star Wars Books

If you get any of the publishing newsletters you probably have seen ads for these new MG/YA re-tellings of the three original Star Wars stories (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi).  I am SO VERY EXCITED ABOUT THESE!!

I am excited for the young girl who first saw Star Wars when she was 6; I am excited for the mom whose sons love Star Wars;  I am excited for the grown up woman who tears up while watching the new Star Wars movie's trailer; and I am VERY EXCITED for the middle school librarian who is going to have three new books to engage readers with!!

First of all, LOOK AT THE COVERS!

These are AMAZING COVERS!  I am in awe at the simplicity, yet they are so striking!

And the authors--Alexandra Bracken, Adam Gidwitz, Tom Angleberger--talk about some serious YA and MG cred!  I am thinking Disney hit these out of the PARK!

I have not read the Sneak Peeks because I don't want to whet my appetite until I have them in my hands and can finish them, but if you want to read the sneak peeks, go here!  

You can bet that I am ordering 3 or 4 copies of each for my library and getting them the day they come out.  


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11. No Big Deal

Kidding, HUGE deal!

I was so excited to see CRENSHAW by Katherine Applegate on Netgalley today because it is one of my most anticipated reads of the year.  I mean, just look at that cover!!

And the synopsis is killer, makes me tear up just reading it:

In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken, and he's imaginary. He has come back into Jackson's life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.
So, I tweeted my excitement.And wow, Katherine Applegate tweeted me back!  Here's the proof:

Yes, that's my name that she tweeted.  No big deal!

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12. My Thoughts: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

5 wonderful, warm chocolate chip cookies dunked in milk.

Cover Love:
Yes!  The cover is what drew my eyes to the book and that is without even seeing it in person.  I have seen pictures online of the actual book and the cover and I believe it is more gorgeous in person!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
The cover caught my attention, the title piqued my interest and the synopsis put me over the edge.  Here is it from GoodReads:

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Romance?: Yes, yes, yes!!

My Thoughts:
First of all, this was so gorgeously written, so descriptive, so transportative (I am sure that is not a word).  You absolutely felt like you were in the palace. You could smell the smells, taste the food, see the beautiful clothes and FEEL THE HEAT between Shahrzad and Khalid.  It is intense.

I did have a little hard time at the start keeping people and their plot lines straight, but by the end it had all snapped into focus.  By halfway into the book I was not able to put it down and have two late nights of reading to attest to that fact.

I loved Shahrzad, she didn't let her hatred totally cloud who she was.  Yes, she went there with a purpose and for most of the book really wanted to follow through with that, but she did let herself discover and question things.

I am SO glad the author wrote chapters from Khalid's point of view.  He was so aloof and uncaring (as he really needed to be) it was hard to get a grasp on who he was until later in the book.  The chapters from his point of view were awesome but also how as we learned more about him, so did Shahrzad so that eventually each of their chapters were very similar. 

The reasons behind why Khalid needs to kill his brides and what he does to try and relieve a tiny little bit of his guilt are both heartbreaking reveals. 

One other thing I liked was how trusting of each other Shahrzad and Khalid (and Jalal) became.  Every action was not looked at with suspicion.  There was a lot of love there and the author did a wonderful job showing them falling in love, fighting it, and then being in love.  I was so glad there was none of the old misunderstanding leads to hurt and break ups, leads to etc... that YA novels tend to do.  This was a more mature relationship once they got into being in a relationship.

UGH!! If I knew there was going to be a book 2 I might not have started this one because I want to read it NOW!!

To Sum Up:  I don't think you will be disappointed in this book, it's just gorgeous and intriguing and romantic.

eGalley requested and received from Penguin via Edleweiss.

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13. Blogs I Love

When I first started trying to grow an audience for my book blog I followed and commented on A LOT of other books blogs.  Over the past few months I have been cleaning out my following list on Bloglovin' and I think I have cultivated a great list of AWESOME book blogs.  Here are some of my favorites: (these are all personal book blogs--I will do another post later about publishing/author blogs.  Penguin has one now that I love reading!)

The O.W.L.:
I think Jill and I started around the same time.  She has rebranded and almost called it quits a few times, but thankfully, she always comes back.  I love her reviews and that she lets her students be involved.  Hers is one I read every time there is a new post!

Donna is another one who almost gave up blogging, but has come back.  I love that she still reviews old RL Stine books and I love her snark.  Fun blog to read!

Forever Young Adult:
I love this blog as much for the book reviews as for all the other YA pop culture they talk about.

Abby the Librarian: 
Abby is a youth services librarian whose blog is great because she really posts from a librarian's point of view, not just a reader of YA books.

One of my favorites from the beginning!

Icey Books:
Great reviews and amazing blog design.  I could look at hers all day.

Ms. Martin:
I love her reviews and she posts a ton.  Always like to read her Staking the YA shelves on the weekends.

These are some of my favorites, but I have added a few new ones to my list this year:   Pop Goes the Reader and Log Cabin Library being two of my favorites new ones. 

As I was cleaning up my following list I was amazed at how many haven't posted in a year or more.  And because I haven't been seeking out many new blogs, I don't know if the whole community is growing like it was. 

Do you have a must read book blog? 

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14. My Thoughts: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

 4 yummy soft snickerdoodles!

Cover Love:  Yes.  It looks romantic, but also friendly.  No kissing, just two people hanging out.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I like this author for contemporary teenage romances!
Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Romance?: Of course!

My Thoughts:
My first impression of Gia was not that favorable.  She seemed bossy and shallow right from the start.  She calms down a few pages in, but the way she is with her friends gave me pause.  These are seniors in high school, they have history.  She and Claire have been best friends for 10 years and she and Laney for five.  Does she really think they don't trust her or love her enough that they will believe anything Jules tells them?  Their whole friendship seemed like middle school girls rather than seniors. They were just really immature for high school seniors!

Unfortunately, they didn't improve as a group, but Gia made a lot of progress!  Sometimes the moment where you are ready to change just comes upon you and for Gia that moment was prom.

One thing that bothers me is that we never did find out why Jules was so awful to Gia.  And there was never the Gia/Jules showdown I longer for, but by the end, Gia had grown and matured enough that it wasn't necessary for her, just for me :).

Oddly enough, while Gia and the "Fill-In" have an attraction, the best part of this is Gia's growing friendship with his litter sister Bec.  It's through Bec's eyes that Gia sees how awful she has been and how she needs to change.  And she has won Bec's loyalty, it makes her feel more worthy of maybe a relationship with the "Fill-In" but also stronger to be without her friends.

Gia's family is kind of ugh.  Her brother is a butt head who does something that, while I didn't think it was awful, did warrant an apology that he provides a little too late and insincerely in my opinion.  And her parents are so sugar coating with everything.   There just wasn't a lot real there.

I adored the "Fill-In."  He had his own issues and was willing to give Gia the benefit of the doubt for a lot of things.  They start off having a nice friendship, which I greatly enjoyed.  It wasn't a jump right into a relationship, it was getting to know each other.

To Sum Up:  Very good story.  Would be good to hand to those girls who think that their friend's opnions are all that matters (I see a few of those in my middle school).

ARC requested and received from HarperCollins.  Thanks so much!!

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15. Added to the List: The Great Good Summer by Liz Garton Scanlon

Yesterday I got this book in the mail.  I had read the synopsis of this on Edelweiss and put it on my fall order for my library, but didn't add it to my TBR list because it just didn't seem to click for me.

There is just something that changes when you have the physical book in your hands.

First of all, it is a really amazing cover...illustrated by Marla Frazee, one of my favorite illustrators.  I love the colors and the font.  The cover reminds me a bit of Love Ruby Lavender, one of my favorite middle grade reads.  That script font is used throughout the book and I just love how it looks!
Re-reading the synopsis made me tear up a little bit so this book got added to my TBR and moved way up to the top!

Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:

Ivy and Paul hatch a secret plan to find Ivy’s missing mom and say good-bye to the space shuttle in this evocative, heartfelt novel reminiscent of Each Little Bird that Sings and Because of Winn-Dixie. Ivy Green’s mama has gone off with a charismatic preacher called Hallelujah Dave to The Great Good Bible Church of Panhandle Florida. At least that’s where Ivy and her dad think Mama is. But since the church has no website or phone number and Mama left no forwarding address, Ivy’s not entirely sure. She does know she’s missing Mama. And she’s starting to get just a little worried about her, too. Paul Dobbs, one of Ivy’s schoolmates, is also having a crummy summer. Paul has always wanted to be an astronaut, and now that NASA’s space shuttle program has been scrapped, it looks like his dream will never get off the ground. Although Ivy and Paul are an unlikely pair, it turns out they are the perfect allies for a runaway road trip to Florida—to look for Mama, to kiss the Space Shuttle good-bye, and maybe, just maybe, regain their faith in the things in life that are most important.

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16. The Perfect Bookmark...

What do you use for a bookmark?
Do you grab any old thing, or do you try to find a bookmark to fit the book?
I have tons of bookmarks from being a librarian for years and years.  Someday I will actually give them to kids, but mostly I only do if someone asks.
I do try to match the book I am reading to the bookmark I chose to use--sometimes just matching the color of the cover, sometimes the feel of the book, sometimes the theme of the book.
This is one of my favorites lately because it makes me giggle each time I see it:

I used this one when I was reading READY PLAYER ONE--it has kind of an 80's feel, right?

For all the bookmarks I have to chose from my go-to bookmarks are these paint chips I collected from Home Depot years ago.  They are from a Disney inspired line of paint and the names on them are awesome.  So, for two of the books I am currently reading I picked the PERFECT bookmarks:
The first is for the fairy tale book DEAREST and the paint names are "Princess Tiara" and "Fairytale Pink."  Awesome.  The second is for THE PENDERWICKS IN SPRING and the paints are called "Friendly Frog" and "Springtime Grass."  Perfect! 

What do you use for bookmarks?

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17. Mini Reviews: Play Me Backwards; Murder is Bad Manners; 3:59

3 frosted gingersnaps.

I started this book in the fall then took a break because the release date was so far away.  That probably wasn't the best idea because my interest waned greatly when I picked it back up.  Although I adored Hazel's voice and loved the setting, the mystery didn't really keep my interest.  I kept getting the teachers confused and there was a lot of clues and false leads to follow, which I didn't do very well.  Here is a link to the synopsis from GoodReads if you'd like to learn more about this book.

3 peanut butter cookies

This is a book that caught my attention when it first came out.  I downloaded an egalley but it expired before I had a chance to read it.  When I was looking at the shelves in my public library I came across it again and since I just love the playfulness of the cover I decided to read it.
I really liked Leon and have known a lot of Leons in my time.  The kids that just prefer to not put themselves out there, to not be exceptional, to just slack off.   They are also the kids that frustrate the heck out of teachers because they have so much more potential than they are exhibiting.  But you know what, you have the rest of your life to be stressed, why not relax when you are still young?  Too mature for a middle school library but I thought this was a fun read and many YA readers would enjoy it.  Here's the link to the synopsis from GoodReads if you'd like to learn more about this book.

4 frosted oatmeal cookies.

I loved the idea of the alternate reality in this book, but it wasn't an overly cheerful place to live.  Josie was kind of a pain in the butt in the beginning and the fact that she was so caught up in her perceived feelings for Nick, when she was the one that ignored him until he left her, was very annoying.   However, she got completely played by Jo and finally did some growing up to save herself, her friends and her family.  Interesting and suspenseful, I am buying this one for my library. Here's a link the synopsis from GoodReads if you'd like to learn more about this book.

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18. My Thoughts: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

 4 lemon Oreos.

Cover Love:  I like this cover a lot.  It's eye catching and each pane tells a little about each character.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I didn't.  I passed it up when I had the opportunity to read an egalley and didn't give it another thought...until the movie was made and got such stellar reviews at the Sundance Film Fesitval.  Still I wasn't sold, then the trailer was released.  Now I am a bit obsessed with it.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

Romance?: No. Just the usual teenage boy obsession with girls.

My Thoughts:
Lots of teenage boy talk.  Lost of it.  Like to the point I think even a high school library would think twice about putting this in their collection (However, a quick check tells me that my son's high school has it their collection).  This is not to say that teenage boys don't talk this way, I am sure a lot of them do.

Greg's voice is awesome.  I had very many laugh out loud moments, and a few good chuckles.The book is from Greg's point of view and his world is funky.  I am not sure why Greg wants to go around being invisible at all times, but he has some issues to say the least.  I would say it all developed when he was in high school, but it seems like he was always this way.  Never really puts himself out there and is very, very private.  But he is sharp and funny and observant.

I love Earl, or at least Greg's version of Earl.  And we don't really get to know Rachel, which is mirrored in Greg's eyes later in the book when he realizes he doesn't really know Rachel either.  Because the book is written from Greg's point of view I can see why some people would get frustrated by him as a character.  He really, really doesn't want to get involved in anyone's life.  He has to be forced to by his mom and he doesn't have a clue how to be a friend to someone.  He;s a weird guy, but very funny, guy!

I would have given this book a five cookie rating, because it was so funny and I enjoyed the heck out of reading it, except there isn't a lot of resolution or growth for Greg by the end.  With what he experienced with Rachel and seeing how she handled everything, you would think he would take more positive steps in the end towards making a change.  But I guess this was more true to life than some coming of age books, he was taking baby steps.  I just wanted more for Greg!

To Sum Up:  So glad I read this book, it kept me very entertained.  Can't wait for the movie!  Watch the trailer!

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19. My Thoughts: Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle

4 caramel apple cookies.

Cover Love:
I do like this, probably most because of the font and the colors.  I think it's eye catching and sparks curiosity.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
For some reason I have been interested in cults, must be because I enjoy watching The Following.  This one caught my eye because of the idea of the rapture.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed "Rapture," all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn't know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivan Apple isn't looking for a savior. She's looking for the truth.
Romance?: Yes!

My Thoughts:
This was a super fascinating story.  I can see how one man was able to rise up and caught hysteria, I could see the right person doing that now.  There is a lot of unrest in this nation, and in the world and the right person, saying the right things, giving stability, could rise to power.  However, one thing that was weird was that there weren't that many people who went missing.   Compared to the amount of people in this nation, the number was barely a blip.  I don't see how everything really started falling apart when it was that few people.  I guess that because of the weird things that came after I guess people really thought the world was going to end six months later.

And there was the disparity of people who didn't get saved with the first rapture so they go overzealous.  And the people who just decide they weren't saved so they didn't care.  I do think that something like that would really happen.  People trying to do everything they can to be saved and people who decide to live out the remaining time committing all sorts of sins.

Vivian Apple is awesome because she decides not to sit back and take it.  She doesn't want to wait out the remaining six months and she knows something isn't right, as many probably do, but she goes after the answers.  And convinces others to come with her.  Her best friend Harp and Peter are good companions and I loved the little romance between her and Peter.

And what she discovers at the end make up for any slow moving parts in the book.  Great twists and a satisfying conclusion.  But a cliffhanger ending makes me want the second book ASAP!

To Sum Up:  I got this for my library but am wondering if it isn't a little mature.  The topic is one that most middle schoolers probably don't even think about, they still accept religion at face value.  I enjoyed this story but think it might be better suited in a high school library. 

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20. My Thoughts: Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark

4 soft sugar cookies.

Cover Love:  Yes.  Eye-catching and romantic.  Love it!

Why I Wanted to Read This:  The synopsis was what it was all about.  How could two teens, whose parents died in a car wreck when they were having an affair, find their way to each other?  I was intrigued by this idea!
Here it is from GoodReads:
Abram and Juliette know each other. They’ve lived down the street from each other their whole lives. But they don’t really know each other—at least, not until Juliette’s mom and Abram’s dad have a torrid affair that culminates in a deadly car crash. Sharing the same subdivision is uncomfortable, to say the least. They don’t speak.

Fast-forward to the neighborhood pharmacy, a few months later. Abram decides to say hello. Then he decides to invite her to Taco Bell. To her surprise as well as his, she agrees. And the real love story begins.
Romance?: Yep. On every page!

My Thoughts:
First of all, both of these characters are intriguing.  They are two teens who have had a traumatic thing happen to them (Juliette's mom and Abram's dad were having an affair which came out when they were killed in a car wreck) and their parents are no help at all.  Juliette's dad is barely functioning and Abram's mom is reliving her youth.   They are just doing the best they can.  But their best isn't not very good.  Juliette, for one, is super controlling and closed off.  She can't find her way to feeling anything.  Abram is obsessed with Juliette from the get go, but it hadn't reached a creepy level yet.  More like he wanted to be involved in her life because he had questions.  But he had given up on things that used to make him happy because they reminded him of his father (like tennis). 

This is a book where the main characters get together pretty early on, not romantically right away, but they forge a friendship early on.  And it's like two drowning people clinging to a life raft.  I am not sure how long their romance will last but its very clear they need each other.  They help each other heal and start to look forward.  They give each other purpose and that's what I loved.  Abram is so good for Juliette and she helps him too.  It;s a very sweet, nice little romance.

To Sum Up:  Adored this story and romance.  In my mind Juliette and Abram stay together for awhile and heal and grow and then separate when they are ready.  It might not be the best relationship for longevity.

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21. Added to the List: Simon & Schuster Edition

Over the past few weeks I have gotten quite a bounty of books in the mail.  Some I requested, some I entered contests to win, and some surprises.  Since I know I am not going to get them all read I decided I wanted to highlight them here and tell you what I think sounds great about each book.  Today are the books I have gotten from Simon & Schuster.  I was fortunate enough to get a box of upcoming summer releases and there are some really good ones in this box.  The best things about the books they sent is that there were a bunch that had escaped my notice that I know will be big hits in my library.

1.  Crown of Three by JD Rinehart.  I hadn't heard anything about this book until I opened this box.  It looks great and I think will be a big hit with my students.  The synopsis kind of reminded me of a few fantasy series that my kids like--Ranger's Apprentice and the False Prince.  I might loan this to one of my stronger readers over spring break and get his opinion.

2.  The Orphan Army (Nightsiders #1) by Jonathan Maberry.  If you know anything about me by reading this blog you know that I LOVED the ROT & RUIN series by Jonathan Maberry.  Not a single one of those books failed, he kept the series amped up all the way through (although the third one was pretty dark).  I am not sure about the sunopsis of this book but Mr. Maberry has earned my loyalty and I am excited to give this one a try.

3.  Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca.  YA romance.  Looks really good, maybe a little deeper than your typical YA romance.  Will probably rip right through this one.

4.  Chantress Fury by Amy Butler Greenfield.  It wasn't until right now, while writing this post that I realized this one was the third in a series.  The synopsis doesn't read like it is the third and I think it sounds really interesting.  I think I will give this one a try without reading the other two first.

5.  River Runs Deep by Jennifer Bradbury.  This sounds like such a good historical fiction book. 

6.  Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten.  This one sounds heartbreaking.  A broken friendship and a mystery.  I had already downloaded the egalley of this one because it sounded so amazing. 

7.  Shackled by Tom Leveen.  This is also one I hadn't heard of until I opened the box, but it's the one I ended up throwing in my bag for school today.  I doubt I will get it started but it sounds so creepy and suspensful.  Haven't read any Tom Leveen yet, but always heard good things!

8.  Attack of the Alien Horde by Robert Venditti.  Again one I hadn't heard of, but after flipping through it I went and added it to my order for next fall.  It is a combo super hero/graphic novel.  I think this is going to be really big with the middle grade set!

9.  Cosmoe's Wiener Getaway by Mac Brallier & Rachel Maguire.  Again one that went right on my order for next fall.  This is a graphic novel that will be loved by Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate readears!

10.  Dime by E. R. Frank.  Hadn't heard of this one at all, but wow, it sounds so heart breaking.  It's about teen prostitution and I have a feeling that it will be a story that grabs on from the beginning and won't let go.

11.  The Secret Cookie Club by Martha Freeman.  Sounds like a sweet, quick, fun read that might be perfect after I read Dime!

Thanks so much for the books Simon & Schuster.  I am grateful for you bringing several of these to my attention.  Will pass along reviews as I get them read!

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22. My Thoughts: Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

4 crunchy peanut butter cookies.

Cover Love:  Yes.  This cover is wild and fantastical and pretty.  Perfect for this story.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
This one wasn't high on my radar until I was offered a chance to review it.  I got a copy and gave it a try.  I was so glad I did!  here's the synopsis from GoodReads:

Sarah has always been on the move. Her mother hates the cold, so every few months her parents pack their bags and drag her off after the sun. She’s grown up lonely and longing for magic. She doesn’t know that it’s magic her parents are running from.
When Sarah’s mother walks out on their family, all the strange old magic they have tried to hide from comes rising into their mundane world. Her father begins to change into something wild and beastly, but before his transformation is complete, he takes Sarah to her grandparents—people she has never met, didn’t even know were still alive.
Deep in the forest, in a crumbling ruin of a castle, Sarah begins to untangle the layers of curses affecting her family bloodlines, until she discovers that the curse has carried over to her, too. The day she falls in love for the first time, Sarah will transform into a beast . . . unless she can figure out a way to break the curse forever.
Romance?:  There is a lot of romance, or love, talk in this book but there really isn't a romance.  That makes it sound weird but you'll understand once you read it.

My Thoughts:
At first I felt this was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and while there were elements of that story in here, it was actually it's own fairytale, very original.  (At least, it doesn't follow any traditional one of which I am aware).  This was beautifully written and very descriptive.  Even though the castle and wood where Sarah is taken are horrible and crumbling and messy, I wanted to be there. I wanted to help Sarah solve the mess of the curse placed upon her family.

I loved that in this tale the evil people weren't necessarily evil, but they were stubborn.  Never underestimate how petty people can be when they feel like they have been made a fool of.  Time passed weirdly in this book so I was never sure when we were at, but grudges were held onto tightly.  Because of one little mistake, generations were cursed.  Doesn't seem hardly fair to me.

The story works because of the writing.  This is a new kind of fairy tale and written so wonderfully that pages went by without me even realizing I was reading that much.  It just wormed inside me and kept me going.  

To Sum Up:  This modern fairy tale is written so wonderfully that you will not be able to put it down.  Going to add it to my school library for sure!

Book sent to me from Nicole at Macmillan.  Thanks Nicole!

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23. My Thoughts: Top Ten Clues You're Clueless

 3 M&M Cookies.

Cover Love:
It's cute and probably very eye catching in the right environment, just not my favorite cover.

Why I Wanted to Read this:
I liked the synopsis and saw some really positive reviews.  It was also compared to The Breakfast Club, which is one of the best movies of all time. Here the synopsis is from Good Reads:

Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market

4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi

3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm

2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)

1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.
Romance?: Yes, but nothing that over takes the book.

My Thoughts:
This book was definitely a take on The Breakfast Club, and I really liked the more diverse group of kids.   I also like the fact that it happened outside of school.  Work environments always tend to allow different types of kids so, unlike The Breakfast Club, I can see this group remaining friends of awhile.

There was one thing really holding me back from giving myself over to this book: I just didn't like Sammi.  At all.  I would kind of cringe when I was reading a scene with her in it, and, unfortunately, the author wrote a lot of scenes with her in them.  Sammi kind of takes over the book.
And it's not like her behavior was never explained, it kind of was, but not very well.  Chloe brings up a few good points, "Can't you be different without being mean?" 

I am glad the romance was not a main focus or that Chloe let it control her. I loved her lists though.  I am a list maker, but not to Chole's level, she is just awesome.  I did get frustrated with her not telling anyone that she had diabetes, even when she was obviously having issues because of it.  There has to come a point when health is more important than pride!

I loved the little mystery as well.  I didn't guess who the culprit was, but I wasn't surprised by who it was either.

To Sum Up:  Great read with mostly a great cast of characters.  Will be a hit in my library!

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24. My Thoughts: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

4 frosted shortbread cookies.

Cover Love:
Yes, I do like this cover.  It tells a story itself.  Eye catching!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
The synopsis intrigued me.  It really leaves you guessing--what happened?  Why was Patrick home? Will things work out?  Here is its from GoodReads:

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.
Romance?: Yes.  Molly is one lucky girl--two gorgeous, kind brothers who are in love with her.

My Thoughts:
After I was a few pages into this I looked it up on GoodReads and read a few reviews.  A lot of them really blasted Molly for being a cheater and how could they root for a cheater.  The thing about that is, it's not that clear because Patrick was being an ass and had just broken up with her before her "alleged" cheating.  I know, semantics.  And Molly knew she had made a mistake which she compounded by making a few more mistakes, including running away as soon as the secret was out.  In fact, running (& hiding) was Molly's go to response to everything.  That's what annoyed me about Molly.  That, and the fact that later in the summer the cheating isn't so gray.

Here's what I really liked, what I felt the message was and would be good for many a teenager:  you are going to make mistakes.  But they don't have to define you.  It's how you own up to them, how you learn from them that helps you grow.  And though it takes Molly a long time, she does learn and grow from her mistakes. 

I also liked that Molly was able to view her relationship with Patrick with the wisdom of a year apart and to see that it wasn't at all perfect.  And that her year away from him was actually very good for her to see that there is more to life than Star Lake and Patrick.

I loved that this was a messy story, not easily tied up with a bow and it ended with Molly in a good spot, albeit not a perfect one.

(I also loved how the secret got out in the first place-but obviously Molly had a right to be extremely pissed off)

To Sum Up:  Everyone makes mistakes and when you are a teenager mistakes can feel life ending.  They aren't everyone will move along and so will you.  Great lessons from this book!

eGalley requested and received from HarperCollins via Edelweiss.  Thanks so much!

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25. My Thoughts: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

5 amazing and wonderful oatmeal butterscotch chip cookies.

Cover Love:
Meh.  The paperback cover is way better but this one is ok.  The colors are eye catching.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I recall this one being touted as a good crossover (teens to adults) type book when it came out, but for some reason the synopsis never made it seem that interesting to me.  Then the news came out that Steven Spielberg* is directing the movie and I read a bit more about the author and decided to give it a try.  So very glad I did!  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads (from the paperback version, the hardback synopsis still isn't that great):
It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

Romance?: Yes, there is a romance and while it's not the main part of the story for awhile it's a big part of the story.

My Thoughts:
I fully acknowledge that one reason I love this book is all the 80's references.  Between this and the upcoming movie Pixels (this is going to be a great summer for movies!), I predict a huge resurgence of 80's interest by this current generation.  But beyond all the awesome, amazing 80's references this is a great book., with tons of action.  For the first time I read a book that dealt with virtual reality that I could actually get and see being reality in the not so distance future.  I am not saying we will all start living most of our lives there, but I could understand it more.

From the first page this book caught me.  I dreamnt about it for the two nights I was reading it and couldn't stop thinking about it most of the time I wasn't reading it.  I haven't had this in-depth of a reading experience in a long time.

I don't normally talk a lot to adults about the books I am reading because I know most of them look down their noses at YA and MG books, and while I think a lot of young adults would love this book (I am making my son read it this summer, he will love it), I know most people my age would love it.  It's not a specific genre, there is something for everyone to enjoy. 

Wade (or Parzial as his OASIS avatar is named) is awesome.  And I think the freedom of having an online persona is what makes him and most people more relate-able.  Even though they have the anonymity of a separate persona, they seem a little more real in the OASIS than their real lives. I liked that the characters Parzival has in his life (by choice and inadvertently) and all like him. I don't want to give anything away, but they are tough and smart and driven.

This book just has everything, romance, action, technology, puzzles, quests, and on and on.  Just go read it.  I cannot rave enough!

To Sum Up:  I want to hand this book to most of the people I know and watch them start the first chapter because then I know they will actually read it.

*Now that there is a director, I cannot wait to see who is cast.  A lot of people throw Nicholas Hoult's name around and I think he would be perfect!!  But I am going to trust this process because this is a book will easily translate to a movie and I am excited to see the process and watch the finished product!

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