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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: mysteries, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 109
1. Chasing Power, by Sarah Beth Durst | Book Review

Chasing Power, by Sarah Beth Durst, is a fast-paced novel that has readers skipping across Mayan temples and ancient churches following a lovable and feisty heroine.

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2. Book Spotlight: Bone: Out of Boneville by Jeff Smith

boneAfter being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone, are separated and lost in a vast uncharted desert.

One by one, they find their way into a deep, forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures…

Humor, mystery, and adventure are spun together in this action-packed, side-splitting saga. Everyone who has ever left home for the first time only to find that the world outside is strange and overwhelming will love Bone.

Age Range: 11 and up
Grade Level: 6 and up
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: GRAPHIX; First Edition edition (February 1, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439706408
ISBN-13: 978-0439706407

PURCHASE HERE!


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3. A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd | Book Review

A Snicker of Magic, Natalie Lloyd’s sensational middle grade debut novel, begs to be read aloud and shared with an audience of dreamers.

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4. Virals, by Kathy and Brendan Reichs | Series Review

In Virals, acclaimed mother and son writing duo Kathy and Brendan Reichs have created a captivating and enthralling series by incorporating science fiction and crime with a contemporary perspective, via 4 teens who are navigating an unusually adventurous adolescence.

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5. The Voice Inside My Head, by S.J. Laidlaw | Book Review

Seventeen-year-old Luke has always relied on listening to Pat, his elder sister, to help him tackle difficult decisions in life, but when Pat goes missing from a tiny island off the coast of Honduras, Luke doesn’t expect to still have to listen to her words.

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6. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: July 1

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currenty send the newsletter out every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (board book, picture book and young adult), two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently, and a tip for nurturing developing readers. Not included in the newsletter, I shared a news release about the Kate Greenway Medal win for Jon Klassen's This Is Not My Hat

Also, just so that it doesn't get lost amid the clutter of my Twitter links, I highly recommend a Summer Reading Tip a Day series that Ali Posner is running on her blog, Raising Great Readers with Great Books. These tips are well beyond your usual: take your kids to the library and participate in summer reading programs. For example, there's Tip #7: Make sure your kids have reading STARs – Space, Time, Access to books, and Rituals for summer reading. This one comes complete with a photo of kids quietly reading in a cozy, tent-like space. My daughter happened to see the photo, and immediately demanded her own reading tent. In short, if you are in need of detailed, out of the ordinary tips for engaging young readers this summer, you definitely won't want to miss Ali's series. 

Reading Update: In the last three weeks I read two young adult and three adult books (helped out by a lot of time spent listening to books on MP3 while walking). I read:

  • Demitria Lunetta: In the After. Harper Teen. Young Adult. Completed June 18, 2014, on Kindle. Review to come. 
  • Charlie Higson: The Fallen (Enemy #5). Hyperion. Young Adult. Completed June 29, 2014. I enjoy the plot twists of this series, and the way the various books connect and overlap. But the violence and gore are starting to get to me ... 
  • Victoria Thompson: Murder in Murray Hills (A Gaslight Mystery). Berkley Hardcover. Adult Mystery. Completed June 21, 2014, on MP3. This series remains one of my favorites, though there is some particularly disturbing content in this installment. 
  • Elizabeth Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta: Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature. Candlewick. Nonfiction. Completed June 23, 2014, ARC. Review to come.
  • Janet Evanovich: Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum). Bantam. Adult Mystery. Completed June 24, 2014, on MP3. Must admit that I am getting a bit tired of the sameness of these books - I may stop here... 

I'm currently reading The Silkworm (A Cormoran Strike novel) by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) on Kindle, The Summer I Saved the World ... in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz in print, and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr on MP3. Next up on MP3 is going to be the first Harry Potter book (with thanks to Maureen Kearney, who inspired me to try listening for the first time instead of re-reading this series). 

As always, you can see the list of books that we've been reading to Baby Bookworm here. She's currently obsessed with an old childhood favorite of my husband's, rediscovered on a recent trip to Boston. It's Something Queer is Going On: A Mystery, by Elizabeth Levy & Mordicai Gerstein. She got quite upset when she was unable to find it one afternoon when she had friends over, because she wanted to show it to them. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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7. Review of the Day: Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Greenglass Review of the Day: Greenglass House by Kate MilfordGreenglass House
By Kate Milford
Clarion Books (an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
$17.99
ISBN: 978-0-544-05270-3
Ages 9-12
On shelves August 26th

When I was a kid I had a real and abiding love of Agatha Christie. This would be around the time when I was ten or eleven. It wasn’t that I was rejecting the mysteries of the children’s book world. I just didn’t have a lot to choose from there. Aside from The Westing Game or supernatural ghostly mysteries sold as Apple paperbacks through the Scholastic Book Fair, my choices were few and far between. Kids today have it better, but not by much. Though the Edgar Awards for best mystery fiction do dedicate an award for young people’s literature, the number of honestly good mystery novels for the 9-12 set you encounter in a given year is minimal. When you find one that’s really extraordinary you want to hold onto it. And when it’s Kate Milford doing the writing, there’s nothing for it but to enjoy the ride. A raconteur’s delight with a story that’ll keep ‘em guessing, this is one title you won’t want to miss.

It was supposed to be winter vacation. Though Milo’s parents run an inn with a clientele that tends to include more than your average number of smugglers, he can always count on winter vacation to be bereft of guests. Yet in spite of the awful icy weather, a guest appears. Then another. Then two more. All told more than five guests appear with flimsy excuses for their arrival. Some seem to know one another. Others act suspiciously. And when thefts start to take place, Milo and his new friend Meddy decide to turn detective. Yet even as they unravel clues about their strange clientele there are always new ones to take their places. Someone is sabotaging the Greenglass House but it’s the kids who will unmask the culprit.

To my mind, Milford has a talent that few authors can boast; She breaks unspoken rules. Rules that have been dutifully followed by children’s authors for years on end. And in breaking them, she creates stronger books. Greenglass House is just the latest example. To my mind, three rules are broken here. Rule #1: Children’s books must mostly be about children. Adults are peripheral to the action. Rule #2: Time periods are not liquid. You cannot switch between them willy-nilly. Rule #3: Parents must be out of the picture. Kill ‘em off or kidnap them or make them negligent/evil but by all means get rid of them! To each of these, Milford thumbs her proverbial nose.

Let’s look at Rule #1 first. It is worth noting that with the exception of our two young heroes, the bulk of the story focuses on adults with adult problems. It has been said (by me, so take this with a grain of salt) that by and large the way most authors chose to write about adults for children is to turn them into small furry animals (Redwall, etc.). There is, however, another way. If you have a small innocuous child running hither and thither, gathering evidence and spying all the while, then you can talk about grown-ups for long periods of time and few child readers are the wiser. If I keep mentioning The Westing Game it’s because Ellen Raskin did very much what Milford is doing here, and ended up with a classic children’s book in the process. So there’s certainly a precedent.

On to Rule #2. One of the remarkable things about Kate Milford as a writer is that she can set a book in the present day (there is a mention of televisions in this book, so we can at least assume it’s relatively recent) and then go and fill it with archaic, wonderful, outdated technology. A kind of alternate contemporary steampunk, if there is such a thing. In an era of electronic doodads, child readers are going to really get a kick out of a book where mysterious rusted keys, old doorways, ancient lamps, stained green glass windows, and other old timey elements give the book a distinctive flavor.

Finally, Rule #3. This was the most remarkable of choices on Milford’s part, and I kept reading to book to find out how she’d get away with it. Milo’s parents are an active part of his life. They clearly care for him, periodically checking up on his throughout the story, but never interfering with his investigations. Since the book is entirely set in the Greenglass House, it has the feel of a stage play (which, by the way, it would adapt to BRILLIANTLY). That means you’re constantly running into mom and dad, but they don’t feel like they’re hovering. This is partly aided by the fact that they’re incredibly busy. So, in a way, Milford has discovered a way of removing parental involvement without removing parental care. The kids are free to explore and solve crimes and the adult gatekeepers reading this book are comforted by the family situation. A rarity if ever there was one.

But behind all the clues and ghost stories and thefts and lies what Greenglass House really is is the story of a hero’s journey. Milo starts out a soft-spoken kiddo with little faith in his own abilities. Donning the mantle of a kind of Dungeons & Dragons type character named Negret, he taps into a strength that he might otherwise not known he even had. There is a moment in the book when Milo starts acting with more confidence and actually thinks to himself, “And I didn’t even have to use Negret’s Irresistible Blandishment . . . I just did it.” Milo’s slow awakening to his own strengths and abilities is the heart of the novel. For all that people will discuss the mystery and the clues, it’s Milo that holds everything together.

Much of his personality is embedded in his identity as an adopted kid too. I love the mention of “orphan magic” that Milford makes at one point. It’s the idea that when something is sundered from its attachments it becomes more powerful in the process. At no point does Milford ever downplay the importance of the fact that Milo is adopted. It isn’t a casual fact that’s thrown in there and then forgotten. For Milo, the fact that he was adopted is part of who he is as a person. And coming to terms with that is part of his journey as well. Little wonder that he gathers such comfort from learning about orphan magic and its potential.

I’m looking at my notes about this book and I see I’ve written down little random facts that don’t really fit in with this review. Things like, “I did wonder if Milo’s name was a kind of unspoken homage to the Milo of The Phantom Tollbooth. And, “The book’s attitude towards smuggling is not all that different from, say, Danny, the Champion of the World’s attitude towards poaching.” And, “I love the vocabulary at work here. Raconteur. Puissance.” There is a lot a person can say about this book. I should note that there is a twist that a couple kids may see coming. It is, however, a fair twist and one that doesn’t cheat before you get to it. For the most part, Milford does a divine job at writing a darned good mystery without sacrificing character development and deeper truths. A great grand book for those kiddos who like reading books that make them feel smart. Fun fun fun fun fun.

On shelves August 26th.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:

First Sentence: “There is a right way to do things and a wrong way, if you’re going to run a hotel in a smugglers’ town.”

Professional Reviews:

Interviews: Milford reveals all with The Enchanted Inkpot.

Misc:

  • In lieu of an Author’s Note, Kate provides some background information on Milo and adoption that is worthy additional reading here.
  • Cover artist Jaime Zollars discusses being selected to illustrate the book jacket here.
  • Discover how the book came from a writing prompt here.

share save 171 16 Review of the Day: Greenglass House by Kate Milford

9 Comments on Review of the Day: Greenglass House by Kate Milford, last added: 6/19/2014
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8. The Art of Writing Fashionable Mysteries

When I wrote the first notes about my sixteen-year-old detective, Axelle Anderson, I was living in Paris, France, doing a short stint as PA to fashion designer John Galliano (then designing for the fashion house Christian Dior), so the fashion world was more on my mind than ever, and the idea of a fashion mystery took hold straight away.

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9. The Art of Writing YA Thrillers

If I were to write this tale, I’d have to research hauntings, of course, and children who grow up with surrogate parents, and anxiety issues and medications. Assuming I’m comfortable gathering this information, there are few things I’ll look at to see if I have the makings of a YA psychological, suspenseful thriller:

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10. Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer, by Will Summerhouse | Dedicated Review

Orion Poe is an eleven-year-old boy who lives in Maine with his grandfather who is the caretaker of a lighthouse. When a large storm rolls in one evening, Orion discovers a washed-up boat and an injured man. From this moment on, he finds himself fighting for survival on a mysterious expedition full of unexpected and non-stop adventure that is connected to the historic event of an explorer, John Franklin, who was lost in the Arctic in 1847.

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11. Model Undercover: Paris, by Carina Axelsson | Summer Preview, 2014

Here is a sneak peek at the jacket cover of Carina Axelsson’s summer release, Model Undercover: Paris, a middle grade novel published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (July 1, 2014).

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12. An Adult/Children's Book Mash-up

I have been a fan of Flavia de Luce, the eleven-year-old protagonist of a series of adult mysteries set in England in the 1950s, for a long time. I've also wondered why she hasn't received more attention from the YA world. Her most recent adventure, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, isn't my favorite, but it is a great example of why Flavia, created by Alan Bradley, is such an incredible combination of adult and even children's fiction elements.

Flavia has an incredibly unique, sharp voice, and she's extremely knowledgeable about a sophisticated subject, chemistry. While she jumps on her bike and has the kinds of adventures that are the stuff of children's books, that voice that adult readers love so much might not be acceptable to child readers. Adults like her because a child shouldn't sound like she does or do the things she does. Child readers might just find her unbelievable. Adults don't care about believing her. Adults like that this brilliant child knows nothing about sex. In this most recent book, she thought she could use her massive knowledge of science to bring someone back from the dead. It was a childish belief that adult readers would find touching. Child readers, on the other hand, might not get that this attempt on Flavia's part was more about character than plot.

I also suspect that Flavia isn't an entirely reliable narrator when it comes to her family. She perceives her sisters as hating her, but they have routinely come through for her over the course of the series. And in this volume it's clear that she hasn't understood her father's behavior toward her. I'm not aware of a lot of unreliable narrators in children's books or even YA.

In all these books a mom has been missing--a classic children's book situation. In The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, we get an actual dead parent. Children's literature is littered with those. What is really fascinating about Vaulted Arches, though, is that here we get a child suddenly learning that her family has a special function and that she is chosen--not those others--to be part of it. This is a cliche of children's fantasy, and there is almost a whiff of fantasy about Flavia at that point.

So what have we got here? While these definitely aren't children's books, do they have enough children's elements to bring young readers into the world of adult reading? 

Alex Waugh of The Children's War has also been writing about Flavia.

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13. Guest Blogger: Michaela MacColl, Author of Always Emily (Giveaway)

Always Emily_FC

Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they’re not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumors that a neighbor’s death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle—before someone else gets killed.

What’s Up with That Title? by Michaela MacColl

This week my new book Always Emily comes out. It’s the next novel in my series of literary mysteries – this one is about the Bronte sisters.  Charlotte Bronte (who would write Jane Eyre) is 18 and her sister Emily (of Wuthering Heights fame) is 17. The sisters get involved in a mystery on their very own moors – a mystery that threatens their peace of mind, their brother and father and even their lives.

If my story is about two sisters, what’s up with that title? Always Emily? I’ve had lots of  people ask me (especially my husband who gets this book mixed up with my last one about Emily Dickinson).  The truth is this book was originally written in alternating chapters, first Charlotte then Emily. These sisters, despite having an identical upbringing, were completely different from one another.

Charlotte was the eldest sister and she assumed responsibility for the family. She’s the one with the plan – to keep the family solvent, to find employment and to get the sisters published.  Emily, on the other hand, had zero ambitions other than to wander the moors and write her wild, uninhibited poetry and stories. Naturally Charlotte wrote about the repressed and moral Jane Eyre, while Emily penned a gothic melodrama of illicit love and revenge.

Jane Eyrewuthering heights

 

Ultimately I found the alternating narration way too confining. It didn’t seem fair to the reader to leave Charlotte locked in a trunk about to suffocate and then shift to Emily doing the most mundane of chores.  So I switched to a third person, but let each sister own their own chapters.  It worked so much better but I had to answer that pressing question, who is the main character?

bronte

I’m the eldest in my family and I’m the one who likes to plan – so my preference was Charlotte of course. But Emily was so much more fun! And if there’s to be a romance (and in these literary mysteries there is always a hint of some love in the air) Emily seems the more likely candidate. So Emily won out by a hair – Charlotte has adventures, but Emily is the main player.

Charlotte quite reasonably resents her sister’s lack of responsibilities. And how aggravating that Emily is the sister that attracts the masculine attention that Charlotte craved. More than once Charlotte mutters, “Emily, it’s always Emily.”

My editor and I liked this as a title because it sounds so romantic – but really it’s the lament of the plainer, older, duller sister. It’s always Emily!

Thanks for reading. I’d love to have you visit at www.michaelamaccoll.com , or follow me on Twitter at @MichaelaMacColl or check out Author Michaela MacColl on Facebook.

 

Read an excerpt at http://www.scribd.com/doc/198642656/Always-Emily

CCSS-Aligned Discussion/Teacher’s Guide at http://www.chroniclebooks.com/landing-pages/pdfs/AlwaysEmily_DiscussionGuide_FINAL.pdf

Win a signed copy of Always Emily!

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14. Coming Soon!: Moonflower by Angela Townsend

moonflower

Natasha remembers little from her Russian childhood, other than the lingering nightmares of her mother’s tragic death. So when someone close to her hands her a one-way ticket to Russia, along with the deed to her family farm, and then is brutally murdered, she has little confidence about what awaits her in that distant land.

With doubt and uncertainty, Natasha has no choice but to leave her life in America for an unknown future. Once overseas, the terrifying facts as to why she was really summoned home come to light.

Fact one: Monsters do exist.
Fact two: The only thing keeping those monsters out of the world is an ancient mural hidden below her family’s farm.
Fact three: The mural that keeps the evil out of the world is falling apart.
The final fact: It’s up to Natasha to restore it and save the world from a horror unlike anything seen before.

Luckily, Natasha isn’t alone in her mission. Three Russian Knights are tasked with protecting her from the demons as she restores the mural. And leading the Knights is the handsome and strong Anatoly, who seems to be everything Natasha could hope for in a man. Unfortunately, there is one huge problem. Her Knights are forbidden from having relationships with the artists they protect, and Anatoly is a hardcore rule follower. But rules cannot stop the way she feels.

When a horrifying demon breaches the barrier and pulls Anatoly inside the mural, Natasha can’t help but charge, once again, into the unknown—this time to save the man she secretly loves. Now on the demons’ turf, she risks her own life to free the very one who is supposed to be protecting her. Little does she realize that if she should fail, it could mean the destruction of the very last barrier shielding mankind. Will Anatoly refuse Natasha’s help? Or will he finally realize, when love is at stake, the rules will be broken.

COMING MARCH 31, 2014!

 

You can add Moonflower to your list on GoodReads at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20924104-moonflower


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15. False Detectives, True Discourses, and Excessive Exegeses


I got caught up in the hype, got curious, and found a way to watch True Detective. It's my kind of thing: a dark crime story/police procedural/serial killer whatzit. Also, apparently the writer of the show, Nic Pizzolatto, is aware of some writers I like, and even one I know, Laird Barron. (Hi Laird! You rock!) What struck me right from the beginning was the marvelous music, selected and produced by the great T-Bone Burnett, and the cinematography by Adam Arkapaw, who shot one of my favorite movies of recent decades, Snowtown, and also the very good film Animal Kingdom and the marvelous Jane Campion TV show Top of the Lake. Something about Arkapaw's sensitivity to color, light, and framing is pure mainlined heroin to my aesthetic pleasure centers. If I found out he'd shot a Ron Howard movie, I'd even watch that.

So many other people have discussed the show that there are now, I'm sure, nearly as many words written about it as there are words in Wikipedia. My own opinion of the show is of no consequence, though for the curious, here's what I said about it on Jeff VanderMeer's Facebook page, where some discussion was going on: "I liked the music, cinematography, most of the acting and directing, but thought the writing was all over the place from pretty good to godawful. And episodes 7 and 8 were like the Goodyear blimp deflating mid-air and landing in a bayou of drivel. (The stars, the stars! Use the Force, Rust! The Yellow King is YOUR FATHER!!! Oh, wait...)"

Much more interesting to me is the discourse around the show. Why did this show inspire such a fanatical response? Why did we feel compelled to respond? Zeitgeist, genre, etc. probably all play into it, but a fuller answer would require some time and research, particularly about how the show was marketed and where and how it first caught on. 

I'm enough of a pointy-headed academic to hope one day for a whole book about the construction of True Detective's appeal, something that doesn't neglect the material aspects: budgets, advertising, Twitter. I'd also like to see analyses of fan responses to mystery/crime shows — for instance, a comparison of fan speculations between seasons 2 and 3 of Sherlock and fan speculations about the mysteries of True Detective before the finale. The choice in season 3 of Sherlock to offer a relatively acceptable but not definitive answer to the mystery of how Sherlock lived was, I thought, quite smart, because even though the creators probably had (unlike Conan Doyle) an idea of an answer when they wrote Sherlock's "death", they realized by the time it came to write season 3 that no answer they could provide would be satisfying after two years of fan speculations.  

True Detective took a different approach, partly because they didn't realize viewers would react the way they did, or that the show would be subject to so much ratiocination, and so they gave a rather ridiculous and clichéd end to the mystery, one that made not a whole lot of sense and tied up only the most obvious of loose ends. Pizzolatto's interest was more in the characters than the plot, or perhaps not even the characters so much as the mood and the projection of an idea of complexity rather than any actual complexity. 


That's the great illusion the show tries to pull off: the illusion of depth. And it does pull it off, thanks to the excessive exegeses of viewers. The exegeses make the depth real — the excess is the depth supplementing the show's surface. Now that we have explored so many assumed clues, we have added a megatext (or megatexts), and so the show becomes vastly more than it was on its own. We have, as it were, colored in the lines, whether they were there for anybody else or not. I don't mean that as a criticism. Some texts invite obsessive interpretation. The process of interpreting widens the text for us, even if we choose to reject the interpretation. I thought most of the ideas about The Shining offered in the documentary Room 237 were bonkers — but I immediately watched The Shining yet again (20th viewing? 30th?) after listening to them all, and I loved the movie more than ever.

I am, myself, now falling into exegesis more than I intended. (It's fun to posit signs as wonders!) Really, what I wanted to do was collect a few writings about True Detective that I particularly liked, that got me thinking. The show has inspired some good writing about it. Here then, before they get lost in the din, are a few fragments I'll shore against these ruins........


Jacob Mikanowski at LA Review of Books:
The Southern Louisiana of True Detective is part truth and part myth. But just by showing so much of it, the show puts us in contact with its real history, even if it doesn’t spell everything out. But there are hints, especially on the margins. There’s the history of pollution, visible in the omnipresent cracking towers and in the condition of Dora Lange’s mother as well as the relative of another victim, a one-time baseball pitcher disabled by a series of strokes. There’s Louisiana’s French and Spanish past, glimpsed momentarily in the Courir and in a stray allusion by Rust to the Pirate Republic of Barataria. And then there’s the history of segregation and racism, barely present except for the suggestion that the schools most of the victims attended were a way around busing — like the “segregation academies” that sprang up in different parts of the Deep South as a response to Brown vs. the Board of Education.

In my dream version of the show, the detectives are historians or archivists. They could work equally well somewhere in the Mississippi Delta or Eastern Poland. The crimes they investigate are buried in the past, and the thing they realize eventually isn’t just that everyone knew, but that everyone was complicit. Coincidentally, while the first episodes aired, I happened to be reading Trouble in Mind, Leon Litwack’s magisterial history of the lives of Black Southerners under Jim Crow. And although I shouldn’t have been, I was shocked by his account of lynching — at how common it was, how popular, and how public. The audiences that gathered for lynchings were huge, and their appetite for suffering — burning and other tortures — as spectacle couldn’t be satisfied by mere killing. Children even played their own games of hanging and being hung. True Detective doesn’t go there — but in the sense it creates, of a past that infects the present, of ritualized violence that doesn’t end even after it officially disappears — it starts to open the door.

Dustin Rowles at Pajiba:
That is literary inefficiency, and while it’s easier to understand in the context of a longer season in the midst of a longer series where it’s often necessary to pad out the episodes, and where showrunners are often forced by more demanding production schedules to wing it along the way, Pizzolatto had only eight episodes to write and the ability to plan out the entire season in advance. The irony, of course, is that he still had all the ingredients necessary to create a more compelling ending, and yet he still he chose to stick with the simpler, “There’s a Monster in the End” storyline. It’s a shame, too, because Pizzolatto obviously has a deep understanding of literature, and yet he chose the television ending over the literary one. Unfortunately, it seems, he knows how to introduce literary allusions, but he doesn’t show us he knows how to utilize them.

Joseph Laycock at Religion Dispatches:
Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a happy ending. But the final message of True Detective reinforces a dangerous mythology that’s already endemic in American popular culture. The brutal misogyny of the heroes, their willingness to commit all manner of felonies—this was not a Nietzchean tale of those who hunt monsters becoming monsters themselves. Instead, this is a moral universe where anything is justified as long as your opponent is “truly” evil and good “gains some territory.” This is about as far from Lovecraft’s cosmic horror as one can get. 

Spencer Kornhaber at The Atlantic:
Certainly Marty’s violence and sexism isn’t appealing; certainly Rust deserves the eye rolls that other characters threw his way. But creating flawed heroes isn’t subversive—it’s doing exactly what any decent fiction writer is supposed to do. A subversion would have been to make those flaws figure into the main narrative in some unexpected but crucial way. Maybe the “good guys” botch the case. Or maybe, per the theories mentioned before, they’re connected to the murders in ways they don’t understand till it’s too late.

Instead, both main characters got a fair amount of vindication in the end. Marty’s family doesn’t seem to hate him quite as much anymore. Rust believes in the afterlife now. They both go backslapping into the night. All of this comes from them catching a killer of women and children. So for the zillionth time in Western pop culture, men (straight, white ones at that) get psychic rewards for valorously risking themselves on behalf of the weak.

Susan Elizabeth Shepard at The Hairpin:
If you're going to make a dead sex worker the inciting incident for your story, if one of the central characters is defined by his rage about the sexual purity of the women in his life, it needs to pay off in the form of story advancement and character development, otherwise it's just gratuitous, sensational, "edgy." And for the last several episodes, it's become clear that the only satisfying way for the mystery to end is for Rust or Marty to be the killer. But we're gonna get some dumb conspiracy of Louisiana good ol' boys who worship the devil, which is going to be unsatisfying and also not give the proper payoff to all that violence against women, which then becomes just so many witchy antler decorations with no clear meaning.

Matt Zoller Seitz at Vulure:
Marty's hypocritical attitude toward his wife and daughters is positively Scorsesean in its misogyny. Never for a moment does the show pretend that he's got the right idea about fidelity, fatherhood, or anything else related to the women who live under his roof. He's got a gangster's idea of manhood: I'll do what I please, and you do whatever I tell you. He's the king of his castle, everyone else is a serf. Rust, meanwhile, is haunted equally by the death of his daughter (and subsequent guilt over his failure to preserve his marriage afterward) and his rocky relationship with his father, to whose home state, Alaska, he briefly returned; he's destroyed by his inability to live up to an unrealistic standard of manly strength, goodness, and patience. It makes both dramatic and rhetorical sense that Marty and Rust's interrogators would be two black men, and that many of the detective's most mortifying and self-destructive moments stem from their inability to deal with women in an honest and non-condescending way. The show's disinterest in race relations and inability to resist gratuitous T&A shots damages its credibility greatly in this department, but the notion that True Detective is purely a white male supremacist fantasy is not remotely supported by the evidence. 

Lili Loofbourow at LA Review of Books:
Ask a woman whether Errol Childress matches the monster at the end of our dreams — I doubt you’ll get many nods. But there is a monster we might dream about in True Detective, and he’s everything a monster should be: murderous, violent, deeply sympathetic, and totally adept at spinning the Cohles of the world to his side. Here’s to TV’s greatest and most affable monster, Marty Hart.

Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber:
Another interpretation, which seems to me to be equally plausible, is that the catharsis of the closing episode is false, and deliberately so. The darkness continues. Marty’s inattention to his family has had profound costs. The show strongly suggests that one of Marty’s daughters has been the victim of sexual abuse, in ways that mirror the detective story, just as the detective story mirrors the story of Marty’s family. Marty doesn’t seem aware of this at all. If Marty and Rust conclude that the light as winning, it is only because they fail to see the darkness that surrounds them, and cannot see it, so long as they continue to live in a world of purely brotherly camaraderie, a war of light against dark where one responds to male violence only with more violence and leaves women’s business to the women. Even when you are confronted with your true situation, you cannot necessarily free yourself from it. The detective’s curse means that you do not escape from Carcosa. You only think that you do because you are willfully blind to the Carcosa that surrounds you, the labyrinth made of the circle that is invisible and everlasting.

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16. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: January 29

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currently send out the newsletter once every two weeks.

Awards Update: In case you missed it, the ALA Youth Media Awards were announced on Monday morning. You can find the complete list of 2014 winners here. A few highlights:

  • Newbery: Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo & K. G. Campbell
  • Caldecott: Locomotive by Brian Floca
  • Printz: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgewick
  • ... and lots more. Congratulations to all of the authors and publishers honored this year. There seems to be fairly widespread satisfaction with this year's selections. 

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (picture book through middle grade / middle school). I also have a post about a recent experience that I had that validates the importance of keeping books nearby, and one with a few recent highlights from my daughter's read-aloud journey. I have two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently, both chock full of book lists and literacy links. 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read 3 middle grade, 3 YA, and 2 adult titles. I read:

  • Matthew Kirby: The Quantum League #1: Spell Robbers. Scholastic Press. Middle Grade/Middle School. Completed January 17, 2014. My review.
  • Laurel Snyder: Bigger than a Bread Box. Yearling. Middle Grade. Completed January 18, 2014. My review.
  • Ari Goelman: The Path of Names. Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic). Middle Grade/Middle School. Completed January 23, 2014. Review to come.
  • Marie Lu: Champion (A Legend Novel). Putnam Juvenile. Young Adult Fiction. Completed January 15, 2014, on Kindle. I found this a satisfying conclusion to the series, but I don't feel compelled to review it. 
  • Hollis Gillespie: Unaccompanied Minor. Merit Press. Young Adult Fiction. Completed January 22, 2014, on Kindle. I read this after reading a recommendation from Leila at Bookshelves of Doom. She said that she was too sick to read, but this book held her interest. I read it while exercising, and it kept my interest, too. The writing style took a bit of getting used to (the story is told in the form of a debrief between the main character and the authorities after an incident involving a plane hijacking and a bomb), and there's a bit more detail about the things that can go wrong on board airplanes than I personally needed. It's also relatively violent, with several deaths. Despite all that, it worked for me as escapist fare.
  • Rohan GavinKnightley & Son. Bloomsbury USA. Middle School. Completed January 27, 2014. Review to come.
  • Michael Connelly: The Gods of Guilt. Little, Brown and Company. Adult Mystery. Completed January 19, 2014, on MP3. Like all of Connelley's books, this one was well-done. But I've concluded that I really don't enjoy courtroom dramas, and this one has more court time than I personally prefer (especially in an audio, where one can't skim). 
  • Salman Kahn: The One World Schoolhouse. Twelve. Adult Nonfiction. Completed January 20, 2014. I found this book about "the flipped classroom" by the founder of the Kahn Academy fascinating (though I have no plans for changing my daughter's educational experience.) Have any of you read this one?

I'm currently reading Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton (a Kindle library book for while I'm exercising), and Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee. I'm listening to the fourth book in Maryrose Wood's Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, The Interrupted Tale. I think that the Incorrigible Children books are pure genius. 

Baby Bookworm has been snagging reading time whenever she can lately. While she's eating, while she's brushing her teeth, etc. You can check out the complete list of books we've read to her so far this year on my blog. Her taste doesn't always agree with mine, but it is a lot of fun to watch her developing her own personal preferences. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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17. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: January 2

JRBPlogo-smallHappy New Year! Today I will be sending out the first 2014 issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I usually send out the newsletter once every two weeks, but I skipped last week because of Christmas, so this issue has a bit of extra content. I'm also sharing my goals for 2014 in this post, so read on if you are interested. 

Cybils2013SmallNewsletter Update: In this issue I have seven book reviews, ranging from picture book through young adult. I also have a new literacy milestone post regarding my daughter, and a post with my reactions to the just-announced Cybils shortlists. I have two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently. Not included in the newsletter this time around I published:

Reading Update: In the last three weeks I read one middle grade, three young adult, and two adult titles. I read:

For the entire year my total was 143 books read (not counting picture books): 42 early reader to middle grade, 54 young adult, and 47 adult titles. You can view the full list here. Seems like going for 50, 50, 50 for 2014 would be a good goal, doesn't it? One book a week in each of my 3 categories, with a couple of weeks of slack. I doubt it will work out quite that way, though. I read more adult books than usual in 2013 because I was sick a lot, and I hope that situation will not be repeated. 

I'm not making formal resolutions, but I do have 3 goals for 2014:

  1. Get more/better sleep
  2. Read more
  3. Exercise more

I have these goals for my daughter, too. Regarding #2, it's not that I want reading to be a contest, or that I'm really going to pay attention to exactly how many books either of us reads. It's more that when I'm deciding how to spend my time (and my daughter's time), and I have a choice, I'm going to try to steer us towards sleeping, reading, or getting exercise. This morning, for example, before starting work I spent 40 minutes reading on my Kindle while riding my exercise bike, thus working on 2 of my goals at the same time. 

I'm currently reading Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord (due out in late February) and Reality Boy by A.S. King. I'm hoping to get a post up tomorrow about the new books that my daughter received for Christmas, so I'll tell you more about what she's reading then.

I'm also keeping a promise that I made to a follower of my Facebook page, and attempting once again to track all of the books that I read aloud to my daughter in 2014. I've started with a typelist in the right-hand sidebar of my blog, but will transfer to a page of the blog later on. 

Wishing you all a happy and book-filled 2014! Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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18. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: November 13

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out the new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. There are 1768 subscribers. I send out the newsletter once every two weeks. 

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (three picture books and one for middle school age). I also have a post about National Literacy Day and the Scholastic SPOTLIT collection, one about WordGirl's word of the month for November, and one with links that I shared on Twitter.

Not included in the newsletter, I have three posts about a conference that I both attended and helped to organize last weekend (the Kidlitosphere Conference, aka KidLitCon):

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read two middle grade/middle school books, one young adult title, and one adult mystery. I read:

  • Rick Riordan: The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, Book 4). Disney-Hyperion. Middle Grade / Middle School. Completed November 5, 2013, on MP3. I don't review audiobooks, but I did enjoy this one. 
  • Peggy Eddleman: Sky Jumpers. Random House Books for Young Readers. Middle Grade. Completed November 6, 2013. Review to come.
  • Robin Benway: Also Known As. Walker Children's. Young Adult Fiction. Completed November 10, 2013. Review to come.
  • Julia Spencer-Fleming: Through the Evil Days (A Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery). Minotaur Books. Adult Mystery. Completed November 10, 2013. A highly suspenseful installment of this series, one that finds all of the major characters facing important personal and professional decisions/deadlines. A perfect winter read, with Russ and Clare spending much of the book stranded by a major storm.

I'm listening to Murder in Chelsea by Victoria Thompson, and reading Sunny Sweet is So Not Sorry by Jennifer Ann Mann (which I picked up at KidLitCon). I also have Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller and Susan Kellley on my nightstand, though I haven't had a chance to really start it.  

Baby Bookworm is reading Back to Bed, Ed! by Sebastien Braun. More on that next week (sigh! sleep problems). We received a box of winter/holiday-themed books from HarperCollins this week, and she is particularly excited about the Pinkalicious Cupcake Cookbook and Charlie the Ranch Dog : Charlie's Snowy Day (an early reader).

She insisted that her babysitter read aloud to her from the cupcake book immediately, though this isn't normally what one does with recipe books. And about the Charlie the Ranch Dog book, before we had even finished it she said: "Let's read this one every day until Christmas, and then on Christmas." It's not even a Christmas book, but ok... Whatever keeps her excited about books. 

Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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19. Twelve Dancing Princesses

Twelve Dancing Princesses, by Rachel Isadora
A Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator gives this classic fairy tale a brand-new setting!
Night after night, the twelve princesses mysteriously wear out their shoes. But how? The king promises a great reward to any man who can solve the mystery. Rachel Isadora has revitalized and reimagined this well-loved Brothers Grimm fairytale by bringing the story of the twelve princesses to Africa...

If you liked this, try:
The Fisherman and his Wife
Sleeping Beauty
Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave
Puss in Boots
The Wild Swans

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20. Review of the Day: A Girl Called Problem by Katie Quirk

GirlProblem 328x500 Review of the Day: A Girl Called Problem by Katie QuirkA Girl Called Problem
By Katie Quirk
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
$8.00
ISBN: 97800-8028-5404-9
Ages 9-12
On shelves now.

Who says that mystery novels for kids all have to include the same tropes and settings? I tell you, half the time when a kid comes up to a reference desk asking for a mystery they think what they want is the standard white kids in suburbia model perfected by Encyclopedia Brown and his ilk. They’re wrong. What they really want is great writing and a good mystery with a twist they don’t see coming. So I will hereby give grand kudos and heaping helpfuls of praise to the librarian/bookseller/parent who hears a kid ask for a mystery and hands them Katie Quirk’s A Girl Called Problem. This book is a trifecta of publishing rarities. A historical novel that is also a mystery set in a foreign country that just happens to be Tanzania. Trust me when I say your shelves aren’t exactly filled to brimming with such books. Would that they were, or at the very least, would that you had as many good books as this one. Smart commentary, an honestly interesting storyline, and sharp writing from start to finish, Quirk quickly establishes herself as one author to watch.

The thing about Shida is that in spite of her name (in Swahili it would be “problem”) you just can’t get her down. Sure, her mom is considered a witch, and every day she seems to make Shida’s life harder rather than easier. Still, Shida’s got dreams. She hopes to someday train to be a healer in her village of Litongo, and maybe even a village nurse. In light of all this, when the opportunity arises for all of Litongo to pick up and move to a new location, Shida’s on board with the plan. In Nija Panda she would be able to go to school and maybe even learn medicine firsthand. Her fellow villagers are wary but game. They seem to have more to gain than to lose from such a move. However, that’s before things start to go terribly wrong. Escaped cattle. Disease. Even death seems to await them in Nija Panda. Is the village truly cursed, just unlucky, or is there someone causing all these troubles? Someone who doesn’t want the people of Litongo there. Someone who will do anything at all to turn them back. It’s certainly possible and it’s up to Shida to figure out who the culprit might be.

The trouble with being an adult and reading a children’s work of mystery fiction is that too often the answer feels like it’s too obvious. Fortunately for me, I’m terrible at mysteries. I’ll swallow every last red herring and every false clue used by the author to lead me astray. So while at first it seems perfectly obvious who the bad guys would be, I confess that when the switcheroo took place I didn’t see it coming. It made perfect sense, of course, but I was as blindsided as our plucky heroine. I figure if I honestly as a 35-year-old adult can’t figure out the good guys from the bad in a book for kids, at least a significant chunk of child readers will be in the same boat.

Now I’ve a pet peeve regarding books set in Africa, particularly historical Africa, and I was keen to see whether or not Ms. Quirk would indulge it. You see, the story of a girl in a historical setting who wants to be a healer but can’t because of her gender is not a particularly new trope. We’ve seen it before, to a certain extent. What chaps my hide is when the author starts implying that tribal medicines and healing techniques are superstitious and outdated while modern medicine is significantly superior. Usually the heroine will fight against society’s prejudices, something will happen late in the game, and the villagers will see that she was right all along and that she’ll soon be able to use Western medicine to cure all ills. There’s something particularly galling about storylines of this sort, so imagine my surprise when I discovered that Quirk was not going to fall into that more than vaguely insulting mindset. Here is an author unafraid to pay some respect to the religion of the villagers. It never dismisses curses but acknowledges them alongside standard diseases. Example: “Though Shida was certain Furaha should take medicine for malaria, she was equally certain she should guard the spirit house that night. Parasites were responsible for some sicknesses and curses for others, and in this case, they needed to protect against both.”

Quirk is also quite adept at using the middle grade chapter book format to tackle some pretty complex issues. To an adult reading this book it might be clear that Shida’s mother suffers from a severe form of depression. There’s no way the village would be prepared to handle this diagnosis, and Shida herself just grows angry with the woman who stays inside all the time. You could get a very interesting book discussion going with child readers about whether or not Shida should really blame her mother as vehemently as she does. On the one hand, you can see her point. On the other, her mother is clearly in pain. Similarly well done is the final discussion of witches. Quirk brings up a very sophisticated conversation wherein Shida comes to understand that accused witches are very often widows who must work to keep themselves alive and that, through these efforts, acquire supposedly witchy attributes. Quirk never hits you over the head with these thoughts. She just lets her heroine’s assumptions fall in the face of close and careful observation.

All this could be true, but without caring about the characters it wouldn’t be worth much. I think part of the reason I like the book as much as I do is that everyone has three dimensions (with the occasional rare exception). Even the revealed villain turns out to have a backstory that explains their impetus, though it doesn’t excuse their actions. As for Shida herself, she may be positive but she’s no Pollyanna. Depression hits her hard sometimes too, but through it all she uses her brain. Because she is able to apply what she learns in school to the real world, she’s capable of following the clues and tracking down the real culprit behind everyone’s troubles. Passive protagonists have no place in A Girl Called Problem. No place at all.

Finally, in an era of Common Core Standards I cannot help but notice how much a kid can learn about Tanzania from this book. Historical Tanzania at that! A Glossary at the back does a very good job of explaining everything from flamboyant trees to n’gombe to President Julius Nyerere’s plan for Tanzania. There are also photographs mixed into the Glossary that do a good job of giving a contemporary spin on a historical work.

Windows and mirrors. That’s the phrase used by children’s literature professionals to explain what we look for in books for kids. We want them to have books that reflect their own experiences and observations (mirrors) and we also want them to have books that reflect the experiences and observations of kids living in very different circumstances (windows). Mirror books can be a lot easier to recommend to kids than window books, but that just means you need to try harder. So next time a 9-12 year-old comes to you begging for a mystery, upset their expectations. Hand them A Girl Called Problem and bet them they won’t be able to guess the bad guy. In the process, you might just be able to introduce that kid to their latest favorite book.

On shelves now.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:

Notes on the Cover:  Now was that so hard?  We ask and we ask and we ask for brown faces on our middle grade fiction and still it feels like pulling teeth to get it done.  Eerdmans really blew this one out of the water, and it seems they spared no expense.  The book jacket is the brainchild of Richard Tuschman who you may know better as the man behind the cover of Claire Vanderpool’s Newbery Award winning Moon Over Manifest.  Beautiful.

Other Blog Reviews: Loganberryblog

Professional Reviews: A star from Kirkus

Misc:

  • This is utterly fascinating.  In this post author Katie Quirk talks about the process that led to the current (and truly lovely) cover.
  • And Ms. Quirk shares what a typical day for Shida might look like in this video.

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21. New and Upcoming Indie MG and YA Titles

cover34385-medium

Jake’s plan for a carefree holiday at a musical performing arts camp in the Windy City hits a sour note when he stumbles upon a long-hidden message from his mother, art historian Karen McGreevy. She had traveled to Chicago thirteen years earlier on a dream assignment, never to return home. With his violin and his mother’s mysterious letter in hand, Jake, his best friend Julie, and new pals Ben and Natalie are heading west, where they will follow the clues and uncover the truth about a missing masterpiece, the meaning of friendship, and the enduring bond between a mother and her son.

Coming in November from MB Publishing!

rocket

A thrilling graphic novel adventure that unlocks the mysteries of ancient Egypt!

The Egyptian capital of Cairo is a buzzing hive of treasure hunters, thrill-seekers, and adventurers, but to 12-year-old Ronald “Rocket” Robinson, it’s just another sticker on his well worn suitcase. But when Rocket finds a strange note written in Egyptian hieroglyphs, he stumbles into an adventure more incredible than anything he’s ever dreamt of.

Rocket and his friends soon run afoul of master criminal Otto Von Stürm, who’s planning the theft of the greatest treasure in history—an ancient pharaoh’s fortune, secretly hidden for centuries. To stop him, they’ll have to de-code an ancient riddle, solve a cryptic puzzle, face off hungry crocodiles, and navigate a centuries-old labyrinth full of traps. All while staying one step ahead of Otto’s bloodthirsty goons.

The streets of Cairo come alive in Sean O’Neill’s lively, vibrant, full-color illustrated pages. Young fans of ancient Egypt will immediately be drawn in by the references to hieroglyphics, mummies, pyramids, and pharaoh’s tombs, all lavishly illustrated in O’Neill’s fun, accessible style.

Coming in October from BoilerRoom Studios.

survivors

The Survivors: Body & Blood is the third installment of The Survivors Series!

How many answers you seek are just a part of you, waiting to be found?

The game has changed.

Fresh from her first brush with mortality, a fragile Sadie Matthau is playing human with Cole Hardwick while the Survivors endure unimaginable tragedy. Wrought with the first deaths of their own kind, a tyrant who will torture them, and an opponent more terrifying than anyone could have foreseen, the Survivors are facing their end.

Told from three points of view, The Survivors: Body & Blood is a bloodcurdling, mind-bending, heart-stopping ride. As Sadie and the Winters uncover more enemies, more history, and more answers, they find themselves brought closer together and ripped further apart. And all the while, a haunting Alexander Raven lurks at the edge of Sadie s lifeline, at the darkening fringes of her mind.

As the Survivors descend into chaos, Sadie realizes a painful truth: the deepest of secrets leave the darkest of marks.

Caught between a terrifying fantasy and her own grim reality, Body & Blood is the story of Sadie s dance with her demons, future, past, and present.

Released July 2013 from Chafie Press, LLC.

camelot

 

Filled with terrific suspense and budding romance, Daughter of Camelot is a fast paced adventure set against the turmoil at the end of the Arthurian era.

Raised in the shadow of a fort dedicated to training Knights of the Round Table, Deirdre thirsts for adventure.

Instead, at 14, she is sent to court to learn the etiquette and talents of a young woman.

Court life, however, is more fraught with danger than she expected, and Deirdre finds herself entangled in a deadly conspiracy that stretches deep into the very heart of Camelot.

All Deirdre thought she knew and believed in—loyalty, love, bravery—is challenged when she embarks on a quest to defy Fate and save the King.

Coming in September 2013 from Mabon Publishing.

 

 


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22. Hold Fast by Blue Balliett | Review

This book will appeal to readers in 5th through 7th grades who like a good mystery, poetry, and stories about hardship and changes in fortune.

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23. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: September 18

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out the new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. There are 1745 subscribers. I send out the newsletter once every three weeks. 

ReadAloudMantraNewsletter Update: In this issue I have a post about one of my daughter's milestones on the path to literacy, a post in celebration of Roald Dahl day, a post about the 2013 Cybils panels, a discussion of the five series I am most looking forward to reading with my daughter, and post about whether or not it matters if you read at bedtime.

I also have a post about getting my blogging groove back, after my illness this summer slowed me down. I appreciate you all staying with me through that. I don't have any book reviews in this issue, but I do expect to have more book recommendations (in one form or another) coming up soon. 

Other recent posts not included in the newsletter this time around are:

Reading Update: In the last 3-4 weeks I read 2 middle grade novels, one young adult novel, and 8 adult novels. I'm just starting to dip my toe back into the world of children's and young adult literature, after what turned out to be a refreshing break. I'm including mini-reviews here:

Jessica Day George: Wednesdays in the Tower. Bloomsbury. Middle Grade. Completed September 14, 2013. I had trouble getting into this sequel to Tuesdays at the Castle (reviewed here). The actions of the kids felt tame compared with the first book, and the device of the semi-sentient castle felt less original (perhaps inevitable in a sequel). The book did get more exciting towards the end, but then concluded with an unexpected cliffhanger. 

Holly Black: Doll Bones. Margaret K. McElderry Books. Middle Grade. Completed September 16, 2013. I haven't written a formal review of this book, because it's already been reviewed everywhere (and is on Betsy Bird's Newbery candidates list). But it really is fabulous and I highly recommend it. Doll Bones is the perfect mix of creepy possible ghost story with kid-directed adventure, with a spot on portrayal of evolving boy-girl friendships at age 12. 

Malinda Lo: Adaptation. Little Brown. Young Adult. Completed August 28, 2013. The premise of Adaptation, in which two teens awaken from a car accident and find themselves in a secret government hospital, intrigued me. I picked it up as a Kindle daily deal one day, and enjoyed it. I do plan to read the sequel at some point.

Robert Crais: Suspect. Putnam. Adult Mystery. Completed August 23, 2013, on MP3. This is a standalone (or first in a new series?) novel is about an LA cop and a military service dog who help each other recover from their respective traumas while solving the mystery of why the cop was shot (and his partner killed). Some of the book is told from the dog's perspective. This worked surprisingly well (though I was a bit resistant to the premise at first). 

Marcus Sakey: Brilliance. Thomas & Mercer. Adult Science Fiction. Completed August 23, 2013, on Kindle. I found this an intriguing science fiction novel about an alternate US reality in which, starting in the 80s, some 1% of the population are "brillliants" - the kind of geniuses that previously only cropped up once in a generation. There are, naturally enough, tensions between the brilliants and others. It's the first of a series, and I can't wait to see what happens next. 

Carol O'Connell: It Happens in the Dark (A Mallory Novel). Putnam. Adult Mystery. Completed August 25, 2013. The Mallory novels are among my favorite mystery series. I find the character herself (a deeply flawed, highly capable NY cop) endlessly fascinating (even if she does break her friends' hearts). The plots are so convoluted that I can actually re-read these books, and thus buy them in hardcover. This one did not disappoint. 

Stephen White: The Last Lie (Alan Gregory #18). Signet. Adult Mystery. Completed August 30, 2013. See below. 

Stephen White: Line of Fire (Alan Gregory, #19). Signet. Adult Mystery. Completed September 4, 2013. See below. 

P.J. Tracy: Shoot to Thrill (Monkeewrench , #5). Signet. Adult Mystery. Completed September 5, 2013, on MP3. The Monkeewrench series is another that celebrates quirky characters (a crew of wealthy, odd hackers), set against a more conventional (in this case) police procedural. The premise of this one, in which people are murdering others on camera, and posting the videos on YouTube, was a bit disturbing. But the characters made it fun.

Stephen White: Compound Fractures (Alan Gregory #20). Signet. Adult Mystery. Completed September 6, 2013. I read the last few books in the Alan Gregory series pretty much all at once, after dipping in and out of the series over the years. The books are about a Boulder psychologist who, with his Assistant District Attorney wife and cop best friend, finds himself in the middle of some ugly situations. The final books of the series are all tightly connected, and it was definitely the right thing to read them as a unit. 

Louise Penny: How the Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Gamache). Minotaur Books. Adult Mystery. Completed September 8, 2013. This series is absolutely brilliant, another one of my all-time favorites. In this installment, things start out a bit bleak for Chief Inspector Gamache, and he to some extent retreats to the small town of Three Pines (which was absent from the prior book). But fans should not worry, because everything is not what it seems. The actual mystery involves a story loosely based on the Dionne Quintuplets, but there is much more to be figured out. I found this one quite satisfying. 

I'm currently listening to Never Go Back (A Jack Reacher novel) by Lee Child. I'm reading The Shade of the Moon (Life As We Knew It, Book 4) by Susan Beth Pfeffer. There are many other books on my TBR shelf, and several upcoming books that I am excited about. 

Baby Bookworm has been enjoying Splat the Cat: What Was That by Rob Scotton and Pinkalicious: Pink or Treat by Victoria Kann, as we start to think about Halloween. We're also reading lots of Curious George, Fancy Nancy, Arthur, and Little Critter books. 

How about you? What have you and your kids been reading and enjoying? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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24. New Books for Review

seesawClavis sent me a group of books to review, which you’ll be seeing soon. Here’s a list of what arrived this week:

 

The Seesaw and Good-bye, Fish by Judith Koppens,

Circus 123 by one of my favorites, Guido van Genechten,crypto

A Big Book of Face Painting by Charlotte Verrecas,

Kevin’s Big Book of Emotions by another favorite, Liesbet Slegers.

 

I also purchased a copy of The Crypto-Capers in The Peacock Diaries by Renee Hand. I’ve been following this series since the beginning, so I sure don’t want to miss out on any of them.

Overdue is my review of Soccer Dreams by Clare Hodgson Meeker, but it’s coming soon. I promise.

 


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25. Book Spotlight: Dead Dreams by Emma Right

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Eighteen-year-old Brie O’Mara has so much going for her: a loving family in the sidelines, an heiress for a roommate, and dreams that might just come true. Big dreams–of going to acting school, finishing college and making a name for herself. She is about to be the envy of everyone she knew. What more could she hope for? Except her dreams are about to lead her down the road to nightmares. Nightmares that could turn into a deadly reality.

Book Title: Dead Dreams, Book 1, a young adult contemporary psychological thriller and mystery

Print Length: 170 pages

Publisher: Right House Books; 2013 First edition

(August 26, 2013)

Format: Kindle

ASIN: B00ESVEVBQ

Purchase at Amazon!

Music video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uM7MI_3vqyo

emma

Emma Right is a happy wife and Christian homeschool mother of five living in the Pacific West Coast of the USA. Besides running a busy home, and looking after their five pets, which includes two cats, a bunny and a Long-haired dachshund, she also writes stories for her children. She loves the Lord and when she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she is telling her kids to get theirs in one.

Right worked as a copywriter for two major advertising agencies and won several awards, including the prestigious Clio Award for her ads, before she settled down to have children.

Social Links:

Email Address: emmarightmarketing@gmail.com

Website: http://www.emmaright.com

Twitter link @emmbeliever

Facebook link https://www.facebook.com/DeadDreamsEmmaRight

Goodreads User:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18396455-dead-dreams

https://plus.google.com/u/0/111644513292318573575/posts

http://pinterest.com/emmaright/

https://twitter.com/emmbeliever

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7036571.Emma_Right

http://www.librarything.com/profile/emma.right.author

http://www.shelfari.com/emmaright

http://www.freado.com/users/35467/emma-right

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Emma-Right/e/B00BD7C4A8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

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