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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Book Reviews, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 2,167
26. Harry and the Monster by Sue Mongredien

harryWhen it comes to bedtime, helping youngsters deal with nightmares can be tough. Harry and the Monster is a delightful and funny book that just might help.

The first night, Harry has a bad dream about a scary monster. Each night afterwards, he is afraid the monster will interrupt his dreams. No matter what Mom and Dad suggest, that monster keeps ruining all his dreams and wakes him up. But one night, Harry thinks he and Dad have come up with a great solution to change everything.

Both of my girls went through nightmare stages. I wish I had this book back then. Mongredien is smart to tackle the monster issue with ideas other parents have probably used in the past: Mom says to imagine him wearing something silly so he won’t be so scary, Dad checks under the bed to make sure he’s not there, etc. This  helps the story make sense to kids. Their parents have probably told them some of the same things.

East also makes this book work by drawing the monster and his antics in such a zany manner that kids will be laughing more than scared of what’s going on, all the while relating to Harry’s fears about the monster.

I loved this book beginning to end.

Highly recommended!

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Tiger Tales (September 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1589251466
ISBN-13: 978-1589251465

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.


0 Comments on Harry and the Monster by Sue Mongredien as of 9/5/2014 3:26:00 AM
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27. Harry and the Monster by Sue Mongredien

harryWhen it comes to bedtime, helping youngsters deal with nightmares can be tough. Harry and the Monster is a delightful and funny book that just might help.

The first night, Harry has a bad dream about a scary monster. Each night afterwards, he is afraid the monster will interrupt his dreams. No matter what Mom and Dad suggest, that monster keeps ruining all his dreams and wakes him up. But one night, Harry thinks he and Dad have come up with a great solution to change everything.

Both of my girls went through nightmare stages. I wish I had this book back then. Mongredien is smart to tackle the monster issue with ideas other parents have probably used in the past: Mom says to imagine him wearing something silly so he won’t be so scary, Dad checks under the bed to make sure he’s not there, etc. This  helps the story make sense to kids. Their parents have probably told them some of the same things.

East also makes this book work by drawing the monster and his antics in such a zany manner that kids will be laughing more than scared of what’s going on, all the while relating to Harry’s fears about the monster.

I loved this book beginning to end.

Highly recommended!

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Tiger Tales (September 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1589251466
ISBN-13: 978-1589251465

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.


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28. Book Reviews: Non-fiction

I’ve recently read two nonfiction books that are completely unrelated in topic, location and even the time period in which they’re set yet, they’re very similar in that they’re well written books that address the intellect of young adults.

 

The Compassionate Warrior: abd El Kader of Algeria by Elsa Marston (Wisdom Tales, 2013)

FC9781937786106summary: A brilliant military strategist, superb horseman, statesman, philosopher, Muslim hero . . . Emir Abdel Kader (1808-1883) was an international celebrity in his own time, known for his generosity and kindness even towards enemies. Today he is recognized as one of the noblest leaders of the 19th century and a pioneer in interfaith dialogue. This fascinating biography of the heroic Arab who led the resistance to the French conquest of Algeria, endured betrayal and imprisonment, and in 1860, in Syria, saved thousands of innocent people from mob violence brings a vital message for our times.

Marston combines her love of scholarship and of young adult literature as she writes about Emir Abdel Kader. At times, she speaks directly to her audience in a tone that guides them as they learn more, not only about this brilliant and compassionate leader but, also about Algeria. France’s relationship with the country was just beginning as Algeria struggled to eventually become a unified nation. Their relationship was complex and interpreted differently through the lens of each of the cultures. Marston provides only what she could document, resulting in a book that is a rare historical document. I think young adults would be more engaged in a story that included more about the Emir’s personal and family life, however this books focuses more on his political accomplishments along with the country’s development. Readers gain insights not only into a country we here tend to ignore, but also into the complex arena of international relations. Nothing is as simple as it seems!

 

Up for Sale: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery by Alison Marie Behnke (21st Century Books; August 2014)

+-+805560493_140summary: Up for Sale takes a hard look at human trafficking, identifying perpetrators and telling the stories of victims through their own words. You’ll discover why some people become vulnerable to trafficking and you’ll read about what their lives are like on a daily basis. You’ll also meet some of the courageous individuals and organizations working to free people from lives in bondage so that, in the words of US president Barack Obama, each person can “forge a life equal to [their] talents and worthy of [their] dreams.

I enjoyed this book. I appreciated its effective use of color, images and layout in telling a multidimensional story. Yes, multidimensional. Human trafficking has no single definition, no single place or location. At its core, it is an horrendous abuse of those with no power: children, women, the poor, the uneducated, homeless… Up for Sale brings to light many of the ways this crime against our humanity is perpetrated today. I liked that the book made sure readers understood this global crime isn’t just committed ‘over there’, but that it happens here in America everyday. The author treats the young adult readers as if they’re aware enough to need to know about human trafficking and without being exceptionally graphic, she provides a dose of reality. Teen readers will appreciate the numerous examples of how this crime is committed over and over again. As the faces and situations change, readers develop a heightened sense of compassion, a greater sense of social justice.

 

 


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: alison marie behnke, Book Reviews, elsa marston, nonfiction

1 Comments on Book Reviews: Non-fiction, last added: 9/5/2014
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29. Book Reviews: Non-fiction

I’ve recently read two nonfiction books that are completely unrelated in topic, location and even the time period in which they’re set yet, they’re very similar in that they’re well written books that address the intellect of young adults.

 

The Compassionate Warrior: abd El Kader of Algeria by Elsa Marston (Wisdom Tales, 2013)

FC9781937786106summary: A brilliant military strategist, superb horseman, statesman, philosopher, Muslim hero . . . Emir Abdel Kader (1808-1883) was an international celebrity in his own time, known for his generosity and kindness even towards enemies. Today he is recognized as one of the noblest leaders of the 19th century and a pioneer in interfaith dialogue. This fascinating biography of the heroic Arab who led the resistance to the French conquest of Algeria, endured betrayal and imprisonment, and in 1860, in Syria, saved thousands of innocent people from mob violence brings a vital message for our times.

Marston combines her love of scholarship and of young adult literature as she writes about Emir Abdel Kader. At times, she speaks directly to her audience in a tone that guides them as they learn more, not only about this brilliant and compassionate leader but, also about Algeria. France’s relationship with the country was just beginning as Algeria struggled to eventually become a unified nation. Their relationship was complex and interpreted differently through the lens of each of the cultures. Marston provides only what she could document, resulting in a book that is a rare historical document. I think young adults would be more engaged in a story that included more about the Emir’s personal and family life, however this books focuses more on his political accomplishments along with the country’s development. Readers gain insights not only into a country we here tend to ignore, but also into the complex arena of international relations. Nothing is as simple as it seems!

 

Up for Sale: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery by Alison Marie Behnke (21st Century Books; August 2014)

+-+805560493_140summary: Up for Sale takes a hard look at human trafficking, identifying perpetrators and telling the stories of victims through their own words. You’ll discover why some people become vulnerable to trafficking and you’ll read about what their lives are like on a daily basis. You’ll also meet some of the courageous individuals and organizations working to free people from lives in bondage so that, in the words of US president Barack Obama, each person can “forge a life equal to [their] talents and worthy of [their] dreams.

I enjoyed this book. I appreciated its effective use of color, images and layout in telling a multidimensional story. Yes, multidimensional. Human trafficking has no single definition, no single place or location. At its core, it is an horrendous abuse of those with no power: children, women, the poor, the uneducated, homeless… Up for Sale brings to light many of the ways this crime against our humanity is perpetrated today. I liked that the book made sure readers understood this global crime isn’t just committed ‘over there’, but that it happens here in America everyday. The author treats the young adult readers as if they’re aware enough to need to know about human trafficking and without being exceptionally graphic, she provides a dose of reality. Teen readers will appreciate the numerous examples of how this crime is committed over and over again. As the faces and situations change, readers develop a heightened sense of compassion, a greater sense of social justice.

 

 


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: alison marie behnke, Book Reviews, elsa marston, nonfiction

0 Comments on Book Reviews: Non-fiction as of 9/4/2014 7:18:00 PM
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30. The Summer of Kicks by Dave Hackett

An accidental band. A record store. A pair of shoes and two perfect girls. This is going to be one hell of a summer.

Starrphyre is your average dorky 16-year-old, although with one difference. He has a very weird girly name, thanks to his hippy parents – a live-to-air radio sex therapist mum and a bass player dad from a tragic one-hit-wonder 80s metal band.

A long hot summer stretches ahead of Starrphyre and all he wants is one date with his dream girl, Candace McAllister. But how can he get her to notice him when she’s the star of every other high-school guys’ fantasies? Perhaps starting a band with his video-game obsessed pals will do the trick …

I found Summer of Kicks reminiscent of King Dork by Frank Portman and Don't Call Me Ishmael by Michael Gerard Bauer. The narration is quick-paced, loaded with jokes and one-liners, and Starrphyre is an endearingly dorky protagonist (who at times behaves terribly, if realistically, which is frustrating - I think that's a difficult balance to find, constructing a character who is realistically flawed but remains likeable, and I think the more you can relate to Starrphyre's profound awkwardness/struggle to figure girls/life/anything out, the more you'll enjoy this novel).

I think it's a novel you're going to love if you like a bit of absurdity - an extraordinary amount of coincidence, and some unbelievably out-there characters (a sex therapist mum who talks about her son's love life on the radio, a seemingly-intelligent older sister who for some reason tolerates the most horrifically awful boyfriend of all time - The Tool is hysterical in his awfulness) - and I think the novel's strengths lie in the ludicrous and the hilarious. The scenes involving the band - which never really comes to fruition (which reminded me of all of my aspirations as a kid of wanting to be a rockstar and forming bands for a week with friends, until we disbanded upon us realising none of us really played any instruments) - were some of the funniest, centred around the very important task of deciding on a band name (my favourite was Bingo Death Cage. That, or Empire of Gandalf). Starrphyre becoming an accidental YouTube sensation was also very amusing, and a super-condensed and disaster-laden performance of the musical Grease. Other characters who were highlights: record-store owner Sean-pronounced-Scene, the aforementioned Tool, Starrphyre's psychic nan and former rockstar dad and hilarious/terrible mum, and Polar Fleece Reece. Who has a terrific name.

I think this novel is very strong comically and is charmingly romantic and captures the awkwardness of being sixteen really well, but we also get a bit of more serious subject matter/weighty issues Starrphyre has to confront. It felt like there wasn't a lot of room for that to be fully explored in this novel (a lot of terrible things happen all at once), but I think there's a real multi-dimensionality (don't know if that's a word, let's pretend it is) there, so I'm looking forward to what Hackett's future novels have in store.

The Summer of Kicks is silly and fun and romantic, and a novel I think a lot of young teenage readers of all genders will enjoy - it captures the terror/euphoria of youth very authentically.

The Summer of Kicks on the publisher's website

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31. No! by Tracey Corderoy

No

Everyone thought Otto was adorable until he learned a new word. Soon his new word became a big problem.

I’m not sure who will get a bigger kick out of this book: kids or parents. As parents, we’ve all been through it. Our kids learn the word “no” and suddenly our happy little camper becomes a contrary, sometimes difficult, little bugger. At the same time, Corderoy respects and understands how the child is feeling. Though Otto liked his new word, at some point it took on a life of its own and made him miserable. That’s when something wonderful happens to turn it around and Otto learns how helpful other words can be.

Not only is this book charming and a bit humorous, the illustrations by Warnes are the perfect touch. He captures so many emotions within Otto’s facial expressions. He also has chosen a color scheme that is subtle and warm.

If my girls were preschoolers, this is a book I would add to our library.

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Tiger Tales (September 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1589251504
ISBN-13: 978-1589251502

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.


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32. Call for Book Reviews: The Angle Magazine

The Angle Magazine is seeking book reviews for an upcoming monthly online feature. Please keep reviews between 500 and 1500 words. We are open to everything from current bestsellers to obscure collections to classics.  

Include the review in the body of the email (attachments won't be opened), and send submissions to:

brennaATtheangleagencyDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to . ) 

Thank you!

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33. Two Awards and Apologies for the Long Silence

Inspiring Blogger Award from
Julia Hones

Liebster Award from Sandra Cox
See below the info that comes with
the Inspiring Blogger Award















First the apologies for not blogging. 
1.) I've been busy working on my mystery. My goal is to finish this draft by mid-September. There's 24-25 chapters in mind, and I'm on chapter 17 so far. 
2.) We've had company and made a couple of out-of-town trips to visit folks we hadn't seen for a long time, due to travels. 
And 3.) We are getting ready for another long trip to Spain and Portugal. (I haven't even finished blogging about the last trip, but that's how it goes sometimes. Oh, the stories I'd like to tell!)

Meanwhile, two very nice blog friends gave me awards that you can see at the top of this page and read about below. Thank you so much, ladies!

Julia Hones gave me the Inspiring Blogger Award, which I find quite an honor. Julia has a marvelous blog called My Writing Life that I love to read and find inspiring in its own right, and you will too, so do check it out. She's also had many short stories and poems published and is the poetry editor of Southern Pacific Review

As a recipient of the award, I'm supposed to reveal 7 things about myself and then pass the award on to others whose blogs I find inspiring. Hmm. 7 reveals . . . Okay, here we go.

1. In my junior year in college, after finals, I let a girlfriend talk me into bleaching my hair blonde. (She was bleaching her hair, and we were hyper from finals, so I thought, "Why not?") Because I have a lot of red in my hair, it went red instead of blonde. Because I have a few freckles, everyone who met me as a redhead thought I really was a redhead -- to the point that when I got tired of it and decided to dye it back to dark brown, I was told, "No, don't do that, it won't look natural."

2. My favorite dessert is a cookie. Forget pies, cakes, and rich creamy custards. Give me a cookie. Any cookie, although I like sugar, shortbread, oatmeal, or peanutbutter the best.

3. I am a crossword puzzle nut. I love the New York Times crossword puzzle. I can't always finish it (Fridays and Saturdays), but I usually start the day with it. For one thing, it wakes me up and gets the wheels turning for writing later in the day.

4. My husband and I met through a cat named Meathead. That is a ve-r-r-r-y long story, that only some of our friends know and would take up too much space here. But we have very fond feelings for our feline cat-alyst from long ago.

5. I used to write everything in longhand first, but the computer has spoiled me. Cut and paste is so convenient. Even so, I miss that feeling of connection between pen or pencil and heart, and I still write my poetry first in longhand.

6. This is probably a horrible confession for an author to make, particularly one who writes children's books, but . . . I never liked The Wind in the Willows. I know, I know, one of the world's great classics. What's wrong with me! But I never could get into it, no matter how many times I tried. 

7. I loved Edith Nesbit and Edgar Eavers, though. And they stand the test of time. I re-read a couple of their books recently and still found them so funny.

And now the nominees:
1. Keith Wynne has a truly inspiring blog called Musings of an Unapologetic Dreamer . He'll also send a little blurb via email called Thought of the Day, if you sign up for it at his site. I bookmark nearly everyone of these blurbs, as they are quite pithy and inspiring.

2. Catherine Ensley is an author of inspirational romance novels and is writing a four-part series. On her blog she "shares her thoughts on country life, simple living, adventure, reading, writing and faith that transforms." I think you will find it very enjoyable. 

3. Victoria Lindstrom's Writ of Whimsy blog is rich with Middle Grage book reviews, poetry tidbits, thoughts on writing, and a section I love, "Whimsical Word of the Week." Check out her site; it's great fun.

4. Lynda Young has a wonderful blog called W.I.P. It: an Author's Journey in which she addresses many issues for writers with insights and reminders that are so helpful to all of us on this common journey. 

5. Check out Carol Riggs, a published YA author with a personable writing style. Her blog, Artzicarol Ramblings, is full of writing tips, YA book reviews, and shares of her own personal journey with agents and publishers. 

6. Renee Hand's The Crypto-Capers Review is a children's book review blog as well as a platform for her radio show, Stories from Unknown Authors. Renee also writes winning interactive mysteries. How cool is that? Check out her site, and you may find yourself being interviewed if you've written a children's book.

7. Mark Noce has a rather eclectic blog, sharing news about his flash fiction publications, gardening, music he likes, and news about other writers. It's always a feel-good experience to read one of his posts. 

On to the Liebster Award, which Sandra Cox kindly gave to me. Sandra's blog is called, not surprisingly, Sandra's Blog  . Sandra is a prolific blogger as well as a prolific author. Spend a little time at her site. Her pictures will make you smile. Meanwhile, the Liebster Award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers, ferreting out blogs you think are worthy of more followers. (Thank you, Sandra!) The rules for accepting the award are to share 11 random facts about myself, answer 11 questions posed by the blogger who nominated me, nominate 11 bloggers who qualify, and pose 11 questions to them. Happily, Sandra modified the rules, asking 6 questions, and nominating 5 newbies. So I am following her lead:

The questions she asked:
1. If you were an animal, what would you be? Probably a dog. I love animals, but dogs have a special place in my heart. They are so loving and loyal.
2. What is your favorite genre? That's a hard one. Mysteries and historical novels are about equal.
3. When reading, do you prefer paper or a hand held device? Paper, for sure!
4. What's your favorite vacation spot? Galicia, Spain. 
5. What's your favorite charity? Another hard one. We contribute to a number. I suppose Southern Poverty Law Center, a remarkable organization that goes after hate groups in this country and prosecutes hate crimes.
6. If given the choice, where would you live? Right where we live now. As a runner up, Galicia would be next, but we are quite happy where we are.

Okay, my nominees are:
Richard Hughes at Writing and Living by Richard P. Hughes , is an eclectic blogger, sharing thoughts about writing, art, life in general, publishing issues. Right now he's running an interesting series of interviews with other bloggers, called, "Where I Live and Why I Like It.

Rosi Hollinbeck at The Write Stuff reviews children's books, interviews authors, and does a wonderful job of culling and sharing links to help writers in every sphere of writing. I always look forward to her posts, and you will too.

Kenda Turner at Words and Such post book reviews, interviews, and shares rich thoughts about the writer's journey. Always a good read.

Loretta Proctor at Books and Other Things blogs about books, art, and music, "and all things creative and beautiful." Her current post is about Seamus Heaney, one of my favorite poets.

Jeanmarie Anaya's delightful blog, Jeanmarie Anaya is definitely worth your while. Humorous, pithy, eloquent. She writes about a number of writing issues, and wrote a lovely tribute to Robin Williams. 

And here are my six questions for these worthy recipients:
1. Where is your favorite place to read a book?
2. When beginning a new W.I.P., do you write by hand or wordprocess?
3. What are three of your favorite books? 
4. If you could be a character in a novel you've read, who would you be?
5. Which author, living or dead, do you wish you had the opportunity to meet?
6. When did you begin to write for yourself (as opposed to doing early homework assignments)?

And that's it, folks. I look forward to your comments, (feel free to answer any of the questions I posed for the nominees), and I do hope you check out the blogs in both sections of this post.

Ciao for now . . .

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34. Interview With Kerry O’Malley Cerra: MG Author

I am so pleased to be doing a post with Kerry O’Malley Cerra, the author of the middle grade book, JUST A DROP OF WATER.  What better way to honor Labor Day than to have Kerry talk about the book and freedom. Here’s Kerry:

1. Tell us about your personal connection to 911.
Pretty quickly after the attacks, it was discovered that Mohamed Atta—the lead hijacker of the plane that flew into the north tower in New York City—lived in our town. Fear was already heightened throughout America, but this information almost paralyzed me. I had three small kids and I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d seen Atta at the grocery store, a restaurant, the park, the bank. At the same time these scenarios were running though my head, I discovered that a close college friend—who is Muslim—was having a difficult time and that his parents, who lived in the town where the terrorists took flight lessons, were being questioned. I wish I could say I believed their innocence in that moment, but it would be a lie. I’ve never really forgiven myself for that.                           Just a Drop of Water Cover

2. What motivated you to write JUST A DROP OF WATER?
As I mentioned above, I didn’t like myself for doubting my friend and his family. Once my head cleared and the fear subsided a little, I knew—with all that is in me—that they were innocent. I started to wonder why I doubted them in the first place. And, I wondered if my kids, at their young ages, would have ever doubted their friends. At what age do we go from trusting and innocent, to fearful and jaded? I wanted to explore that, and Just a Drop of Water is the result.

3. What’s the message you want readers to take away from the story?

I sincerely hope that the theme of peace comes though. While the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 were tragic, I hope we can learn from them. Acceptance is the key to peace, and that begins with children. I don’t mean acceptance of terrorism, but acceptance of religious, cultural, racial, and all other differences to eventually create a world where we can live side by side, peacefully. When I see and hear stories about children in the Middle East being brainwashed and trained to hate at such young ages, it breaks my heart. Why can’t we be doing the same thing but with the opposite message? I hope that Just a Drop of Water is a step in that direction.

4. Our theme this month is FREEDOM. How does that idea resonate with your book and all that took place during the events of 911 and the writing of your story?

I’ve always loved the word freedom. It’s a strong word that evokes much emotion for me. Though freedom equates to rights, those rights come with much responsibility. That’s a hard concept for kids to grasp. In the story, Bobby is free to be whom he wants and he chooses to be a bully. Jake has the freedom to defend Sam. But, both of these roles come with responsibility and both, ultimately, have consequences. This is the part that Jake struggles with the most. If Bobby hits Sam, Bobby deserves to be hit in return, but all this does is get Jake in more trouble. He can’t see the fine line between standing up for what he believes in, yet finding a way to do that peacefully—finding a way to do it that won’t get him in trouble. How does this relate to war? If terrorists attack our country, is it okay to attack them back? When does defense cross the line? Is it better to find another way to solve the problem? These are all questions the book raises, and questions to be considered when freedom is discussed. I hope teachers, parents, and/or librarians will talk about this with kids as they read the book.              Kerry Offiicial Author Photo copy

You can reach Kerry at:
Twitter @KerryOCerra Website is: http://www.kerryomalleycerra.com

Just a Drop of Water:   Kirkus calls the book:
“A perceptive exploration of an event its audience already sees as history.”
“…the supplemental material middle-grade history teachers are looking for…”

Ever since he was little, Jake Green has longed to be a soldier and a hero like his grandpa, who died serving his country. Right now, though, he just wants to outsmart—and outrun—the rival cross country team, Palmetto Ridge. But then the tragedy of September 11 happens. It’s quickly discovered that one of the hijackers lived nearby, making Jake’s Florida town an FBI hot spot. Two days later, the tragedy becomes even more personal when Jake’s best friend, Sam Madina, is pummeled for being an Arab Muslim by their bully classmate, Bobby.
According to Jake’s personal code of conduct, anyone who beats up your best friend is due for a butt kicking, so Jake goes after Bobby. But soon after, Sam’s father is detained by the FBI and Jake’s mom doubts the innocence of Sam’s family, forcing Jake to choose between his best friend and his parents. When Jake finds out that Sam’s been keeping secrets, too, he doesn’t know who his allies are anymore. But the final blow comes when his grandpa’s real past is revealed to Jake. Suddenly, everything he ever knew to be true feels like one big lie. In the end, he must decide: either walk away from Sam and the revenge that Bobby has planned, or become the hero he’s always aspired to be.
A gripping and intensely touching debut middle grade novel by Kerry O’Malley Cerra, Just a Drop of Water brings the events of September 11, which shook the world, into the lens of a young boy who is desperately trying to understand the ramifications of this life-altering event.
You can now pre-order my book from these locations:
Amazon / IndieBound / Barnes & Nobel / Book A Million / Powell’s Books

 


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35. The Monthly Book Brief – The Very Best New Release Books in September

Fiction Books When The Night Comes by Favel Parrett A story of growing up, journeys into the great unknowns and that anything in life is possible. Parrett’s writing is truly mesmerizing. Her words immediately draw you in and you are swept away. Poetical, evocative and truly moving this will not only have you immediately falling […]

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36. Bleakboy and Hunter Stand Out in the Rain by Steven Herrick


Some things are too big for a boy to solve. 

Jesse is an eleven-year-old boy tackling many problems in life, especially fitting in to a new school. 

Luckily he meets Kate. She has curly black hair, braces and an infectious smile. She wants to ‘Save the Whales’ and needs Jesse’s help. 

But they haven’t counted on Hunter, the school bully, who appears to enjoy hurling insults at random. 

With Hunter’s catchphrase ‘Ha!’ echoing through the school, something or someone has to give. 

But will it be Jesse? Kate? Or is there more to Hunter than everyone thinks? 

An inspiring and funny story about the small gestures that can help to make the world a better place.

I think Steven Herrick writes with a great deal of insight and subtlety, so I was really looking forward to reading Bleakboy and Hunter Stand Out in the Rain. I strongly recommend both Cold Skin and The Simple Gift (the only other Herrick novels I've read so far) - extraordinary verse novels with tough subject matter delicately handled, very powerful. They demonstrate beautifully the meaningfulness that can be achieved even when words are used economically.

Bleakboy and Hunter Stand Out in the Rain is written in prose rather than verse, and for a younger audience than other Herrick novels I've read, and it's both funny and thoughtful. I think it will really appeal to kids in upper primary school. It's positive and uplifting - a lovely little story with lots of nice messages, about environmental conservation and charitable causes (it's very message-dense). The story is told from the perspectives of both Jesse, who is well-meaning and quiet and a bit eccentric (he talks to a poster of Jesus that he refers to as Trevor, as his parents are atheist - the family dynamics are rather amusing), and Hunter, who is the school bully but gradually revealed as an endearing character - his interactions with the elderly man he befriends were some of my favourite in the book. As someone who was a bit eccentric and very thoughtful as an eleven-year-old, I really identified with Jesse, but both characters are likeable and authentic.

It's definitely a feel-good sort of novel, and one I think 9-12-year-olds will love, and anyone older who likes heartwarming stories about saving whales and making friends and the various awkwardnesses of being eleven.

Bleakboy and Hunter Stand Out in the Rain on the publisher's website.

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37. Starting to blog about children's books I read, #BookADay, and why I DON'T do formal book reviews

As some of you already know, I've been participating in Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge and having great fun with it; you can see my posts so far here and all my #BookADay collages on Flickr.

I've decided to keep posting about the children's and YA books I read (and re-read) this way, even if I'm unable to do it every day. But now I'm torn; I'm not really adhering to the rules of the official #BookADay challenge...although I AM reading/rereading an average of a picture book a day, I don't always post about it. I mentioned on FB that I'm pulling back a wee bit from online distractions so I can get more writing done.

I enjoy the process of putting together these mini book-collages, however, especially for favourites I'm re-reading, because it gives me an excuse to delve more into the background of the book as well as finding out more about the author and illustrator. I'm also finding that it gets more people interested in these books.

Because I'm not strictly following the #BookADay rules, however, I'm going to change the footer of these images from now on...else I'll feel like a #BookADay cheater!

Please note that these are not meant to be formal book reviews. I AM NOT A BOOK REVIEWER. I just like reading books written for young people, and sometimes I am going to blog about them. I want to make this clear because I strongly prefer NOT being contacted about reviewing books. Reading a book for review or critique vastly changes the reading experience for me, and I am already finding it a challenge to carve out time for pleasure reading.

And thanks again to Donalyn Miller, whose Book-A-Day Challenge inspired me to start doing these book mini-collages!

 

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38. Call for Submissions on the Theme of Disobedience: Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry

Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry is now accepting submissions for our next issue, Volume VII, The Disobedient Issue. We are leaving the interpretation of the concept of disobedience open, but know that this issue was inspired by reading Poetics of Disobedience by Alice Notley and by necessary acts of civil disobedience everywhere. Please send only your best work, any length, any style.

Deadline for this issue: January 31, 2015

Expect a response within 1 - 3 months after close of submissions. If you have not heard from us after this time period please feel free to inquire.

The details:

- Please submit 1 to 5 poems, 1 craft essay, and/or 1 book review, using the online submission form.
- Please include a brief third-person bio in your cover letter.
- Simultaneous submissions are fine as long as we are notified promptly when work is accepted elsewhere, but please no multiple submissions. The only exceptions to this rule is if you are submitting both poems and an essay, or both an essay and a book review, or both poems and a book review.
- Previously published is also fine, as long as it was in print, not online, and as long as you as the author retain all copyright. Because we strive to be the first online publisher of your work, if it has appeared anywhere that is publicly accessible on the web (including on your blog) then it is considered previously published. Please feel free to contact us and we will provide clarification on a case-by-case basis.
- We acquire one-time, non-exclusive rights to publish your work, at which time all rights revert back to you as the author. If we should ever decide to create a print anthology and would like to include your work, we will contact you.
- If accepted for inclusion you may be asked to provide a brief contributor's statement exploring your view of disobedience in literature . (See past issues for examples of what me mean.)
- Please note that we are a non-paying market.
- No snail mail submissions. All submissions must come through our online submissions manager.
Upload your submission here.

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39. Guest Book Review: In the Shadow of the Volcano by Wendy Leighton-Porter

shadow

Publisher: Mauve Square Publishing; 1 edition (April 15, 2013)
ASIN: B00CDUXKUC
Rating: Five stars
Age group: 9+

The Shadow of the Volcano is the fifth adventure of twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot and their friend Charlie. Joe and Jemima have been searching for their parents who disappeared several months earlier. Thanks to an old book and a magical key, as well as special charms, the kids and Max (their talking Tonkinese cat) are able to travel back in time to search for the twins’ parents. Sadly, on their previous adventures, it seems the twins’ parents were always just ahead of them. On this trip, they hope they’ll catch up with their mum and dad. Trips back in time can be dangerous, especially if they end up in the middle of a war, or some disaster. The kids have had their fair share of those and this trip is no less dangerous. The kids and Max end up in Pompeii, just a few days before Mount Vesuvius will explode, destroying the whole city. Unfortunately, they also land up on the tail end of a consignment of slaves. The slave dealer Scylax is ecstatic because he’s convinced he was short-changed by three slaves in the last delivery. Jemima befriends a young slave, a Briton called Caris, and tries to cheer her up. Luckily, Joe and Jemima are attractive twins and take the fancy of their new owners, while Charlie, originally thought weedy, impresses the book-keeper with his skill in mathematics. Joe has the hardest time of all, working his fingers to the bone, as he grumbles, while Charlie and Jemima have relatively easy jobs. Max manages to inveigle himself into the household, but on the night of a party, is booted out. He is rescued by a priestess of the Temple of Isis, and she is in love with a gladiator. An adventure to rival all others ensues, with a magnificent fake battle between Leo (a lion that Max helped) and Felix, the handsome young gladiator. All this time, the kids keep trying to warn people about the impending disaster; some listen and will escape the conflagration, but for the most part, people don’t heed the warnings. Vesuvius has rumbled before and they are used to it. Will the kids catch up with their parents? Will they make it back to their own world?
I just love this series and, in my opinion, it keeps getting better with every book. Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has such a lovely sense of humour that brings even the smallest characters vividly to life. Max is utterly captivating as himself, with delusions of grandeur after living as the descendant of a god in the Temple of Isis. The kids’ new owner is based on a real Pompeiian, whose villa was discovered and excavated. So much fact is cleverly woven into the story, teaching kids a history lesson without their even knowing it. There are details that young readers will remember, simply because of the way these have been used in the tale to lend credence and veracity. Who can argue with an exciting piece of history? Of course, as in her other books, Wendy Leighton-Porter does not shy away from the gritty realities of life back then. Being a slave was no easy task, and if one was a gladiator, death was just another fight away. I truly enjoyed the rich detail of Pompeiian life pervading the story, down to the descriptions of the eruption and what it must have been like for people at the time. The end material includes some lovely particulars for avid young explorers and historians; a glossary, a floor plan of a typical house, photos of the Pompeiian excavation and more. As always, maps put the leap back in time firmly into perspective. This book is a real winner, and don’t be surprised if your young relative starts sounding like an expert volcanologist. PS: If anyone is wondering how the romance is going between the twins’ Uncle Richard and Charlie’s mum … they are going on another date!

 

http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Volcano-Shadows-Past-Book-ebook/dp/B00CDUXKUC

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.


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40. Guest Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

more

Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (July 22, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0763676209
ISBN-13: 978-0763676209
Genre: Dystopian
Suggested reading Age: Grade 9+

Three stars

Seventeen-year-old Seth drowns; in fact his action is deliberate. He wants to escape the horror of his existence. Racked with guilt over the fate of his younger brother, an event he feels is his entire fault, he doesn’t have much to live for. Then he wakes up, back in his old home in England, and things start becoming very weird indeed. He is wrapped in silvery bandages, and his old street is deserted. The whole place is uninhabited and overgrown. He seems to be the only person left alive in the world. He must now forage and scrounge for clothing, food and water. He wonders if this is hell. His dreams don’t help because his previous life comes back to him in huge, unwelcome chunks of memory. Then he meets two other people, with their own unique and strange tales to tell.

Despite the fantastic beginning, with a description that pulled me right into the ocean with Seth, I struggled to finish this book. Parts of it were incredibly exciting and then would grind to a halt with unnecessary introspective and philosophical meanderings on the part of the main character, meanderings which became boring and one had the urge to say, “Oh, just get on with it!” The plus side: an utterly riveting and plausible story premise that comes much later on (just when you are wondering what on earth this is all about and is he dead or not, and if everyone else is dead, then where are the bodies?); really wonderful descriptions that have the reader in the grip of the moment; action and tension to add to the positively bleak and hopeless situation; events that come out of nowhere that have a cinematographic and surreal feel to them; the depth of emotion Seth feels for the loss of his younger brother and his friends. In fact, Seth’s guilt is so palpable that one is consumed with curiosity to learn the truth. The two characters that join him are so different, so lost as well, and so eager to hide the circumstances of their lives/deaths. One feels the pain of the characters as they reveal the humiliating and tragic burdens they each carry.

What I did not enjoy: the flashbacks were sometimes jarring and intrusive, until I accepted them as part of the story-telling process; the fact that this world, while it began as an interesting construct, did not have enough to sustain the story and/or the last three inhabitants. I found the ending abrupt and it short-changes the reader in a way. There were many loose ends in the unfolding of this tale that I feel the author might have tried to answer. The characters were confused and, as a result, the reader becomes confused. It is as if the author didn’t bother to work things out to the last detail, which is possibly not the case, but feels that way. The reference to same sex love/relationships was dealt with sensitively and delicately, in an almost tender way. However, this might surprise readers who are not prepared for it, especially if the reader is younger than the protagonist’s age of 17. Ultimately, the characters’ thoughts on what constitutes life and death, and the option of living in a constructed world, avoiding the reality of a life too sad/tragic/hopeless to contemplate should give readers food for thought. However, I have no doubt that the intended audience of older teens and YA readers will love this book.

http://www.amazon.com/More-Than-This-Patrick-Ness/dp/0763676209/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.


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41. Book Review: Brown Girl Dreaming

title: Brown 9780399252518Girl Dreaming

author: Jacqueline Woodson

Date: Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin; August 2014

Main Character: Jacqueline Woodson

MIddle Grade Fiction

There are rules to children’s books you know, and Jacqueline Woodson just broke one.

Brown Girl Dreaming is the author’s poetic telling of her childhood and retrospective visits to childhood are supposed to be adult books. Somewhere along when Jackie learned to embrace words and the power they contain, she became entitled to a Poetic License that let this book be produced as a children’s book. Thank goodness!

For me, a Black woman of the same generation who grew up in Ohio with a mother from Mississippi, I quite often found myself pausing and connecting to the story while I daydreamed about my own life. But, this book wasn’t written for me. Will teens relate? Will they find themselves in the spaces Woodson creates when she talks about teeth, not being as smart as, about grandpa’s love and forever friends? I think that they will not only find themselves in these nuances, but they’ll also see how they fit into the larger stories of their family, community and history itself.

In creating a fictional autobiography, Woodson leaves huge spaces that all readers can dive into and find their own meaning. Woodson looks back as adult, but tells the story through the eyes of a child. Her family is her haven whether they’re in New York or South Carolina and even when it looks like things might be going wrong, Jacqueline’s family is perfect in the young girl’s eyes. This girl has a dream to fulfill and we’re going to find out where she gets her strength!

Young Jacqueline is disenchanted with the inaccuracies of memory and the confusion between storytelling and lying.

Keep making up stories, my uncle says.

You’re lying my mother says.

 

Maybe the truth is somewhere between

all that I’m told

and memory.

So, Jacqueline decides to give us her own truths in this story of self empowerment.

I’m so glad Woodson broke the rule!

I reviewed an ARC and am looking forward to adding a final copy to my collection as it will also contain photos.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline Woodson grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She now writes full-time and has recently received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. Her other awards include a Newbery Honor, two Coretta Scott King awards, two National Book Award finalists, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. source


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: african american, Jacqueline Woodson, review

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42. The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn

For Fin, it’s just like any other day – racing for the school bus, bluffing his way through class and trying to remain cool in front of the most sophisticated girl in his universe. Only it’s not like any other day because, on the other side of the world, nuclear missiles are being detonated.
 
When Fin wakes up the next morning, it’s dark, bitterly cold and snow is falling. There’s no internet, no phone, no TV, no power and no parents. Nothing Fin’s learnt in school could have prepared him for this.
 
With his parents missing and dwindling food and water supplies, Fin and his younger brother, Max, must find a way to survive in a nuclear winter … all on their own. 
 
When things are at their most desperate, where can you go for help?


I love apocalyptic stories set in familiar locations, and the fact that The Sky So Heavy is set in Australia really added to the realism for me, though it explored something entirely foreign (thankfully). Though I'm not familiar with the Blue Mountains, they make for an amazingly atmospheric setting, a great sense of isolation and fear. Though it's an apocalyptic novel it lacks melodrama, and it explores the motivations and emotions of the central characters beautifully. It's about ordinary kids facing an extraordinary situation, a terrifyingly believable one. (I find fictional stories about nuclear war a lot scarier than fictional stories about zombie apocalypses, largely because zombies don't exist in our reality. I mean, I hope.)

Though the novel opens with a flash-forward to a particularly thrilling point in the story, it's not a novel of non-stop thrills - I think the strengths of the novel lie in the way characters are developed as the story progresses, as they are shaped by their circumstances. After the flash-forward, the story returns back in time to prior to the (shall we say event?) event occurring, these opening scenes a little clumsy in that way every apocalyptic story is - Everything was perfect... until! Dialogue is flippant and the impending threat of nuclear war is quickly set up - once everything is established, it's an enthralling read. Some decisions by certain characters (very difficult to avoid major spoilery spoilers here) are difficult to believe, but that probably reflects the reality of extreme situations - people behave in irrational ways. Fin has an authentic and endearing voice, a kid just trying to look after his brother. I think this novel will appeal to teenagers of any gender.

The Sky So Heavy is accessible and thought-provoking and relevant, an enjoyable read. Well worth a look if you're after another frighteningly realistic apocalyptic novel to read after you've finished the Tomorrow When the War Began series.

The Sky So Heavy on the publisher's website

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43. Interview With Award Winning Author Joanne Rocklin.

I first “met” Joanne Rocklin when she graciously read my manuscript for WHEELS OF CHANGE and provided a lovely blurb. As soon as I read one of her stories, I was hooked.  I couldn’t get enough of her heart-warming and delightful books. Her titles, THE FIVE LIVES OF OUR CAT ZOOK, and ONE DAY AND ONE AMAZING MORNING ON ORANGE STREET, capture the joys and sorrows of childhood with wonderful, unique characters and prose that wedges itself into your heart and takes hold. Her new book – FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY – (FLF) debuts this month, so I thought it would be great to feature her on this blog. First, here’s a description of FLF:

A story about a special girl, an inspiring book, and a brilliant (though unintentionally funny) flea.

From the publisher: This gem of a novel takes place in Pittsburgh in 1952. Franny Katzenback, while recovering from polio, reads and falls in love with the brand-new book Charlotte’s Web. Bored and lonely and yearning for a Charlotte of her own, Franny starts up a correspondence with an eloquent flea named Fleabrain who lives on her dog’s tail. While Franny struggles with physical therapy and feeling left out of her formerly active neighborhood life, Fleabrain is there to take her on adventures based on his extensive reading. It’s a touching, funny story set in the recent past, told with Rocklin’s signature wit and thoughtfulness.
Release Date: August, 2014
Amulet Books/Abrams ISBN 978-1-4197-1068-1    fleabrain cover

 
FIVE THINGS LEARNED WHILE WRITING MY MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY
My novel takes place in the 1950’s in Pittsburgh, during the worst polio epidemics of that era. Franny, my main character contracts the disease and can no longer walk. During her hospital stay she is introduced to the recently published Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, and falls in love with the book, and, especially, the spider, Charlotte. She longs for a Charlotte of her own. Her wish is granted in the form of the brilliant Fleabrain, her dog’s flea.

1.
Much of what I learned while writing FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY were writing concepts I had to learn yet again, concepts that are integral to my own personal writing process. I usually begin with a phrase which arrives out of the blue. The phrase feels promising but doesn’t reveal much about the book I’m going to write. The phrase for this book was “you can stop seeking messages in spider webs.” This was Fleabrain’s first message to Franny, although I didn’t know it yet. I had to remember to just go with the phrase and wildly thrash about while I figure out what it means. I had to learn yet again, that for me, the rough draft is messy and chaotic but eventually leads to the story.

2.
Fleabrain provided Franny a necessary escape while she healed, as well as exciting adventures, affection, companionship and joy. He also taught her when it was time to face the real world. Fleabrain taught me, yet again, that humor will always be present in my books, no matter the seriousness of the subject matter, and that’s a good thing.

3.
Research is an ongoing process. I began reading about this particular era and began to get ideas about my character and her dilemma. I realized I had to set it in Pittsburgh because that’s where Dr. Jonas Salk did his important research on the polio vaccine, and I wanted to include a scientist in the story. But I was already deep into my story when I realized I would have to visit Pittsburgh and interview Pittsburghers who remembered that time. My research kept giving me ideas for scenes and themes for subsequent drafts.

4.
A surprising thing I learned while researching and writing this book was that many, many people knew very little about the polio epidemics. Some had never heard of an iron lung, or any of the treatment methods and medical advances associated with polio. Many were surprised to learn about the isolation and prejudice experienced by those stricken, and that most of the young people were required to attend special schools for “crippled” children. In addition, I myself learned that polio survivors were at the very forefront of the disability movement, agitating for many of the things we take for granted today (curb cuts, handicapped-accessible public places, etc.).

5.
And so, I learned yet again that the theme of my story will only become clear to me during the writing of the book itself, not before, and sometimes at the very end of the process. One of the important things that Franny learned is that it is not she who needs to be repaired by learning to walk again, but society itself, in accepting her.New picture book:

Joanne’s picture book:  I SAY SHEHECHYANU  will be out in January, 2015

Visit Joanne at: http://www.joannerocklin.com

 


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44. For The Chick Lit Newbie

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new topic/top ten list and invite everyone to share their own answers. Here is my TOP TEN TUESDAY:

Top 10 Books I’d Give to Readers Who Have Never Read Chick-Lit!

 

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Watermelon by Marian Keyes

Marian Keyes can do no wrong. In my opinion all of her books are absolutely delightful and worth a read. But if you are looking for a starting off point, Watermelon was her first and it introduces readers to the Walsh family. This is a book I could certainly re-read (always a good sign)!

for-better-for-worse

For Better, for Worse by Carole Matthews

Once upon a time Kelly Ripa started a book club. It was short lived but it was so much fun to watch her have authors sit at a round table and discuss their work. She only picked “Chick Lit” titles and the conversations were so fun. I wish they did more of this type of programming on television today. Carole Matthews was one of Kelly’s first picks and ever since then I have always picked up her latest book. She is quite prolific and so much fun to read.

Confessions of a shopaholic

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Oh my god. I love these books. The movie doesn’t do them justice. And word has it that there is a NEW Shopaholic book scheduled for the fall. I. Can’t. Wait!

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Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

I’m not sure how Jennifer Weiner would feel being put in the “chick lit” label. She has been very outspoken about women not receiving the same respect as their male counterparts and I really hope this doesn’t bother her. But honestly, I can’t make a favorite chick lit list and NOT include Jennifer Weiner. I will say that her writing is deep and authentic and her characters are flawed and wonderful. Chick lit, women’s fiction, literary fiction, fiction. Who cares how you label it as long as you read it and enjoy!

Bridget-Jones

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Obviously this title goes without saying. What would a chick lit list be without our beloved Bridget? Fielding recently revisited Bridget in MAD ABOUT THE BOY. She did not disappoint. Many people were shocked by the current situation for Bridget, but the story rang true and I think Fielding did a fantastic job.

835155

See Jane Date by Melissa Senate

Harlequin had a book subscription service years ago (sort of like a book-of-the-month club) called Red Dress Ink. You could get a new chick lit title delivered to your door each month. It was so wonderful and every title was fantastic. I believe See Jane Date was the inaugural title so it holds a warm place in my heart.

51brQ6iPXTL

Jemima J by Jane Green

I love Jane Green. I love everything she writes. She’s brilliant and funny and smart. I just finished her latest, Tempting Fate, and she has yet to disappoint. Jemima J was her first and it has such a lovable heroine and a great story.

GG-to-Hunting-and-Fishing

The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

This one topped bestseller lists across the country when it was released in 1998. Again, I think this was one of the earlier titles in the chick lit genre and really helped kickstart the public’s interest in the lives of single, spunky women.

20111101-SomethingBorrowed

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Emily Giffin’s books are delightful. They are fun to read and light and yet they always ask difficult questions. She puts her characters in compromising positions and you can’t turn the pages fast enough to find out how they are going to fix whatever mess they have gotten themselves into.

The_Devil_Wears_Prada_coverThe Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

An inside look at the magazine world (specifically, VOGUE) by a woman who was there. Last summer the sequel, REVENGE WEARS PRADA, was released.

1 Comments on For The Chick Lit Newbie, last added: 8/6/2014
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45. Guest Book Review: The Dark by Lemony Snickett

darkBook Review: The Dark by Lemony Snicket (Author), Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
Age Range: 3 – 6 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 1
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (April 2, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0316187488
ISBN-13: 978-0316187480
Product Dimensions: 11 x 7.1 x 0.4 inches

Rating: Five stars

The dark is a very interesting thing. There’s a lot of it when the light is off, as young Laszlo finds out when his night light bulb fails. Then the dark comes into his room. Prior to this event, the dark lived quite happily in (unsurprisingly) dark places such as the basement, drawers that no one ever opened, and occasionally behind the shower curtains. At night the dark had a huge expanse to roam outside the creaky old house where they both lived. Laszlo and the dark respected each other’s space. The dark knew Laszlo and Laszlo knew the dark—in fact they even greeted each other. Well, the dark didn’t actually answer back. It never spoke until one fateful night when the bulb in Laszlo’s night light fails. The dark calls to Laszlo. Then Laszlo gets out of bed and answers the dark, which leads him all the way down to the basement…

This deceptively simple illustrated story is especially relevant for kids who are afraid of the dark. Who can say they didn’t fear something that lived under the bed, behind the door (no, that was never an old dressing gown!), or at the bottom of the stairs? This book depicts the dark and the fears of a little boy who has to learn that everything has its designated place and purpose. Without the dark there is no light. Without the night there is no day. Without the dark we would never see the moon and the stars. Without all the things in Laszlo’s house, providing hiding places for the dark, there would be no dark. And the dark is a necessary part of life. The size of the book, 11×7.1 inches is actually the perfect size for little hands to grasp. In addition, the dark looks very big (there’s a lot of it, as I said) while Laszlo looks very small, creating a huge contrast between them. The story has mystery, shivers, scary bits, and leads the young reader all the way down to the basement, where the dark turns out to be very helpful indeed. I’d recommend this for all young readers and their parents (who might still be afraid of the dark). It is a charming tale by the inimitable Lemony Snickett, beautifully illustrated by Jon Klassen.

Purchase at http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Bccb-Ribbon-Picture-Awards/dp/0316187488 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.


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46. The Running Dream book review

Hey everybody! It's Louisa again. This book I am reviewing The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen, one of my favorite books of all time.

If I was stuck on a desert island and could only bring one book, it would be The Running Dream, by Wendelin Van Draanen. This book is one of those books you could read a billion times, and never get tired of. Jessica Carlisle is sixteen years old and loves to run. She's a record breaking member of her high school's track team. On the way home from a meet the team bus is involved in a horrific accident. The collision kills one girl, and causes Jessica to lose a leg. Jessica's world is turned upside down. Running is her life! She doesn't know what to do without her leg. Some days, Jessica wonders if the girl who died didn't get the better end of the deal. No pain, no recovery, just peace and quiet. Finally, Jessica plucks up the courage to go back to school. She befriends Rosa, a girl with cerebral palsy who helps Jessica with math, and inspires her to look towards a future full of hope and new beginnings. Jessica has always been very determined, and so she naturally begins to wonder if it would be possible not only to learn to walk, but learn to run, too.With the help and support of her family and friends, she makes progress with her leg, and learns a lot about herself along the way.

Hope you enjoyed it, and be sure to check out this book because it's amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                                                       -Louisa

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47. Interview With YA Author Yvonne Ventresca.

Today’s post comes from my writer friend Yvonne Ventresca whose debut YA novel PANDEMIC, hit bookstores in May.

BOOKLIST has this to say about Pandemic: 

Ventresca gives Lilianna a compulsive need to prep for disaster (a coping skill after her assault) and a father who works for a journal called Infectious Diseases. This ups the believability factor and helps the reader focus on the action and characters. As is to be expected in an apocalyptic novel, there is no shortage of tension or death and a few gruesomely dead bodies, but teen disaster fans will likely appreciate that the high schoolers are portrayed as good, helpful people, but certainly not perfect. This fast read will appeal to fans of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It  (2006), even though the type of apocalypse is different.”
After reading this engaging and suspenseful novel, I can certainly agree that it is, indeed, hard to put down.  Ventresca did a wonderful job of making me feel like I was part of the “going’s -on” and even checked my own pantry to see what kind of provisions I had on hand.  Here’s Yvonne:

Five Historical Facts I Learned While Researching a Contemporary Pandemic
By Yvonne Ventresca

My debut young adult novel, Pandemic, is a contemporary story about a teenager struggling to survive a deadly flu pandemic. Although it is set in present-day New Jersey (what would it be like if a pandemic hit suburbia tomorrow?), I spent a lot of time researching the Spanish Flu of 1918 while writing the book. Parts of my fictional disease are based on the historical influenza, and I was interested in finding out as much about it as possible.     ventresca pic 1

Here are five things I learned while researching Pandemic:

1.  The influenza pandemic of 1918 is commonly called the Spanish Flu, but it didn’t originate in Spain. In March of that year, known cases occurred among soldiers in Kansas. But in June, Spain informed the world of a new disease in Madrid, and the Spanish Flu was belatedly named as it spread worldwide.

2.  The Spanish flu had a different mortality pattern than previous flu outbreaks, with the highest death rates occurring in adults between the ages of twenty and fifty. The reasons for that pattern are still not entirely understood, but according to the US website Flu.gov, the 1918 virus “evolved directly from a bird flu into a human flu.”

3.  In a time before technology, colored ribbons were placed on doorways to indicate a death in the household. The color of the ribbon indicated the age range of the dead. White, for example, was used for children.       Pandemic cover

4.  In 1918, sanitation measures included wearing face masks, blow-torching water fountains, hosing down streets, and locking public phone booths. Despite these measures, the Spanish flu killed more Americans than all of World War I.

5.  Katherine Anne Porter’s short novel, Pale Horse, Pale Rider is set during the 1918 Influenza. It’s a work of fiction (published in 1939), but was no doubt influenced by Porter’s memories of the pandemic and her own illness. The tragic story provides a sense of the war, the disease, and the desperation of that time.

For resources about preparing for an emergency, visit yvonneventresca.com/resources.html.

For more information about the Spanish flu, refer to:

Emerging Epidemics: The Menace of New Infections by Madeline Drexler http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7444179-emerging-epidemics
The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29036.The_Great_Influenza
Influenza 1918: The Worst Epidemic in American History by Lynette Iezzoni http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/625882.Influenza_1918
“Pandemic Flu History” http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/history/index.html

Before becoming a children’s writer, Yvonne Ventresca wrote computer programs and taught others how to use technology. Now she happily spends her days writing stories instead of code and sharing technology tips with other writers. Yvonne’s the author of the young adult novel Pandemic, which was published in May from Sky Pony Press. She blogs for teen writers every Tuesday and for writers of all ages each Friday at http://www.yvonneventresca.com/blog.html.       Yvonne Ventresca Author Photo

To connect with Yvonne:
Website: http://www.yvonneventresca.com
Facebook Author http://www.facebook.com/yvonneventrescaauthor
Twitter twitter.com/YvonneVentresca
Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/317481.Yvonne_Ventresca
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/yvonneventresca


3 Comments on Interview With YA Author Yvonne Ventresca., last added: 8/11/2014
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48. Replica by Jack Heath

'Whose body is that on the table?' I ask. 
She stares at me, as though the answer is obvious. 'It's yours,' she says. Before I have time to scream, she types a command on the keyboard. My consciousness whirls away like storm water down a drain. 

Chloe wakes up to find all her memories have been wiped. And the only person who knows what happened is a teenage girl who looks and sounds exactly like her. 

Who is she? And what does she want? 

Chloe is running out of time to discover the truth. But she's in even more danger than she realizes, and nothing is as it seems . . .

An awesome possible-near-future sci-fi novel with a fantastic premise and lots of killer twists. It's very, very difficult to talk about Replica without accidentally revealing any of these twists (and I hate to be a plot spoiler, I do) but I will say things that are pretty clear from the outset: it's a novel about a replica of a teenage girl, created via 3D printer with silicone skin and a consciousness downloaded as open-source software - technological details that ground Replica in our reality. Replica raises lots of interesting questions about the nature of consciousness and what makes us human. I love thinking about the possibility that I am a robot, or in the Matrix, or that we're all aliens (I use the excuse that I'm imaginative and a writer but I'm actually just a bit odd) so I found this premise immensely engaging. It's set in Canberra but nothing feels overtly Australian about it. Without being horrifically spoiler-ish, I love that for once there's a non-hetero romance in a YA sci-fi/thriller novel - I want to see more of this!

The ending is of the open variety, clearly set up for a potential sequel with a lot of things left unresolved. I am not a fan of endings that spell it all out for the reader and tie up all loose ends - I like to both write and read endings where it's up to the reader what happens next. That said, as much as I love open-ended stories and concise novels, there are things I would've loved to have seen explored further and in more depth - it's a very plot-driven novel and while characters are authentic and believable (Narrator Chloe is realistic and likeable and complex), there's a necessary economical use of detail at times to maintain pace. Between the nefarious organisation and the conspiracies and the robotic clones it was difficult to get to know Chloe's family and friends as well as I'd like (as a reader of primarily character-driven novels) so I'm really looking forward to a sequel.

Replica has an amazing concept and a terrifically intriguing opening scene, and it's stacked with thrills/twists/action that means it's probably inadvisable to start reading it at ten p.m. if you'd like to be asleep at a reasonable time. If you like sci-fi, action, mystery, thrillers or some combination thereof, it's definitely worth a look. Robotic replicas, you guys. How could you not want to read this?

Replica on the publisher's website.

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49. Call for Submissions: Raleigh Review

We believe that great literature inspires empathy by allowing us to see the world through the eyes of our neighbors, whether across the street or across the globe. Our mission is to foster the creation and availability of accessible yet provocative contemporary literature.

We are looking for poetry, flash fiction, and short fiction that is emotionally and intellectually complex without being unnecessarily “difficult.”

Find our submission guidelines at our website.

Please submit by October 31, 2014 for our Spring 2015 issue. We look forward to reading your work!

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50. Fangirl

Why did I wait so long to read this?  It is awesome.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell    

Fangirl    More later.  I have to finish this book.

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