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Results 1 - 25 of 74
1. THE NEST by Kenneth Oppel, illustrated by Jon Klassen

I read middle grade novel THE NEST (written by Kenneth Oppel and illustrated by Jon Klassen) in one sitting last night. Totally lives up to the hype. I'm a horror fan and this was genuinely scary, with tension and dread gradually building to a nightmare-inducing climax. Yowza.

If you or your 8-12 year old are looking for a good Halloween read, I strongly recommend THE NEST.

Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR in the U.S. and by HarperCollins in Canada.


0 Comments on THE NEST by Kenneth Oppel, illustrated by Jon Klassen as of 10/29/2015 6:03:00 PM
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Full disclosure: I consider the author a friend of mine, though we've never yet managed to meet in person. (Darn it.) I read this book out of affection, but am raving about it, because I found it to be flat out astounding.One of the weird things... Read the rest of this post

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3. AWKWARD by Svetlana Chmakova needs to be in every school library

Just finished AWKWARD, an absolutely wonderful middle grade graphic novel by Svetlana Chmakova (Yen Press/Hachette, 2015). Omigosh, this needs to be in every school library. Why? Because it Svetlana does SUCH a great job at capturing the awkwardness of middle school personal interactions, especially for the insecure and shy. I wish this book had been around when I was that age, because it would have inspired me to take more risks, to not be so afraid of making mistakes when it came to social situations.

Free preview - Facebook Page - Publisher book page -  More about the author 

Thanks to my friend Susan Rich for the recommendation.


"Penelope–Peppi–Torres, a shy new transfer student, wants nothing more than to fit in and find a place among her fellow artistically inclined souls. The last thing she wants is to stand out. So when she bumps–literally–into quiet, geeky, friendly but friendless Jaime Thompson, and is teased as the Nerder Girlfriend, Peppi’s first embarrassed instinct is to push him away and run. Though she later feels guilty and wants desperately to apologize for the incident, Peppi always ends up chickening out. She has no reason to speak to him, anyway, until she ends up bumping–figuratively and continually–into Jaime again! Will these two opposites ever see eye-to-eye, let alone become friends?"

0 Comments on AWKWARD by Svetlana Chmakova needs to be in every school library as of 9/23/2015 4:00:00 PM
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4. February & March 2014 Releases!


Vanessa Di Gregorio

I know, I know. These are hardly “upcoming” titles anymore, but still! Cut a girl some slack. February is a short month, and it also happens to be one of the busiest months for me, work-wise. March is almost just as hectic… and so. That leads us to this: A dual February & March releases list! I know, it’s practically April, but it feels really wrong to not point out the shiny new books that have come out!

However, you can probably imagine that compiling the releases for both months in one post would make for a massively behemoth list. So, I’m really only going to highlight the books that I’m SUPER excited about. A more comprehensive list can be seen in my Goodreads lists (which I’ve linked to at the bottom of the post) – so if you want to see more releases, head on over there!

But first! Last month, our very own Erin Bowman released an e-novella for TAKEN! So… BIG CONGRATS, ERIN! And, PC alumni (and one of our founders, to boot!) Sarah J. Maas celebrated a release earlier this month with THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE (a bind-up of all the THRONE OF GLASS e-novellas)! EXCITING!

February 4

Stolen  Cress  Wildwood-Imperium
STOLEN e-novella by PC’s own Erin Bowman (YA Dystopian)
CRESS by Marissa Meyer (YA Science Fiction / Fairy Tale Retelling)
WILDWOOD IMPERIUM by Colin Meloy (MG Fantasy)

Landry-Park  Mistwalker
LANDRY PARK by Bethany Hagen (YA Dystopian)
MISTWALKER by Saundra Mitchell (YA Paranormal)

February 11

Lady-Thief  White-Space  The-Worlds-We-Make
LADY THIEF by A.C. Gaughen (YA Fantasy)
WHITE SPACE by Ilsa J. Bick (YA Fantasy)
THE WORLDS WE MAKE by Megan Crewe (YA Dystopian)

February 25

 The-Wells-End  Boy-on-the-Edge  The-Shadow-Throne

THE WELL’S END by Seth Fishman (YA Science Fiction)
BOY ON THE EDGE by Fridrik Erlings (YA Contemporary)
THE SHADOW THRONE by Jennifer A. Nielsen (YA Fantasy)

March 4

The-Assassins-Blade  The-Winners-Curse  Death-Sworn

THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE by PC alumni Sarah J. Maas (YA Fantasy)
THE WINNER’S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski (YA Fantasy)
DEATH SWORN by Leah Cypess (YA Fantasy)

Dangerous  The-Haven  Let-the-Storm-Break
DANGEROUS by Shannon Hale (YA Science Fiction)
THE HAVEN by Carol Lynch Williams (YA Dystopian)
LET THE STORM BREAK by Shannon Messenger (YA Fantasy)

Cured   Half-Bad
CURED by Bethany Wiggins (YA Dystopian)
HALF BAD by Sally Green (YA Paranormal)

March 11

Promise-of-Shadows  The-Shadow-Prince  The-Mirk-and-Midnight-Hour
PROMISE OF SHADOWS by Justina Ireland (YA Fantasy / Retelling)
THE SHADOW PRINCE by Bree Despain (YA Fantasy)
THE MIRK AND MIDNIGHT HOUR by Jane Nickerson (YA Retelling)

Mindscape   Game-Over-Pete-Watson
MINDSCAPE by M.M. Vaughan (MG Fantasy)
GAME OVER, PETE WATSON by Joe Schreiber (MG Contemporary)

Strange-Sweet-Song   Ruins
STRANGE SWEET SONG by Adi Rule (YA Fantasy)
RUINS by Dan Wells (YA Dystopian)

March 18

The-Riverman  Elusion
THE RIVERMAN by Aaron Starmer (MG Fantasy)
ELUSION by Claudia Gabel & Cheryl Klam (YA Science Fiction)

Side-Effects-May-Vary  Remnants-of-Tomorrow
SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY by Julie Murphy (YA Contemporary)
REMNANTS OF TOMORROW by Kassy Tayler (YA Dystopian)

March 25

The-Strange-and-Beautiful-Sorrows-of-Ava-Lavender   Caminar
CAMINAR by Skila Brown (MG Historical)

Now, THAT was worth the wait, right?

I definitely missed a bunch of releases for February & March – so if  you know about any, let me know in the comments! And add them to my Goodreads February 2014 MG & YA Releases, or my Goodreads March 2014 MG & YA Releases list.


Vanessa Di Gregorio works in publishing as a sales rep at Ampersand, a book and gift sales agency. She is also a former literary agency intern. When she isn’t out selling books and talking to bookstores, Vanessa can be found over at Something Geeky, GoodreadsTwitter, or writing for Paper Droids.

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5. Sharing The Fun

Happy Monday, my favorite folks!

I hope you all had wonderful Mother's Day weekends!

Mine was very nice (thank you for asking).  The weather was gorgeous and perfect, and there was family and chocolate cake.  What could be better?  (Of course the cake was actually one I baked for my daughter's birthday - not a Mother's Day thing - but who cares?  Chocolate cake is chocolate cake no matter how you slice it :))

Also, did I tell you the hummingbirds are back?

Every year I am amazed by how punctual they are.  They show up the week of my daughter's birthday without fail.  And they're such cheerful little critters, it's lovely to have them around!

Okay.  So, you know how when you write a blog sometimes you do favors for friends and relations who don't have blogs?  This is one of those days.  But I'll be very brief.  I promise.  (Stop laughing!  I am exceptionally keen of hearing and I can HEAR you!)

Allow me to introduce you to my husband.

Cute little fellow, isn't he? :)

He's a little older and taller than this now (although his outfit hasn't changed much... his clothing of choice is still shorts and a tee shirt :))

Eric has been an elementary school teacher for a very long time.  He's incredibly good at it and the kids all love him because he's so much fun.  (If you happened to miss it a while back, he had the yearbook dedicated to him and I did a post about it HERE... which I believe has some pictures of him when he's older than 4 :))

So anyway, after years of regaling family and students with the outrageous escapades of his childhood, he finally decided to put his train commute time to good use and write a book.  It took him about a year, but he did it and here it is in all it's glory:

You really have to read this book to believe it.  Seriously, it's kind of amazing he survived his childhood given the escapades he was continually involved in!  My childhood was so incredibly tame by comparison that I am jealous.  I could be writing great MG novels if I'd grown up doing the kind of stuff he did! :)

A lot of the book is very funny, but it's more than that.  He managed in the end to learn some valuable lessons about life which come through beautifully in the telling.  The book has been available for about a month now, and a lot of the kids at his school have read it and loved it, so I think he hit the mark pretty well.  But I also know a lot of adults who have read it and loved it.  It really works equally well for both audiences.

Of course, I recognize that I could be a teensy bit biased :)  But I still think it's a very fun book.  So if you need something entertaining to read, or you know someone, child or adult, who would enjoy reading about making Viking toast on the space heater, sticking darts into the playroom ceiling tiles, and trimming the backyard grass with scissors after an unfortunate episode with rubber cement, please give it a try and spread the word!

The book is available
for Kindle HERE $4.99
for Nook HERE &4.99
in paperback HERE $7.99 (or $6.63 for Amazon prime members)
and will be on Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords soon.

Tweet: Fun for all ages! Read and share How To Stick A Dart In Your Head http://ctt.ec/qc0Pa+ @SusannaLHill @erichill_band

Thank you for your indulgence in letting me share Eric's book.  I hope some of you will get to enjoy it!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone!!! :)

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6. TURNING PAGES: FLIGHT OF THE GRIFFONS, by Kate Inglis, illus., by Sydney Smith

Rarely do I get something as absolutely delightful in the mailbox as the unexpected package I received all the way from Halifax this week. It brought news -- big news: There are still PIRATES in the backwoods of Nova Scotia. Pirates -- and get this... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on TURNING PAGES: FLIGHT OF THE GRIFFONS, by Kate Inglis, illus., by Sydney Smith as of 5/23/2014 9:36:00 AM
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7. Review: Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre


May Contain Spoilers


Oliver and the Seawigs is a cute, cute book!  Ten year old Oliver Crisp has spent his entire life exploring all of the unexplored areas of the world, and he’s tired of it.  What Oliver wants is to wake up in his own bedroom, in his own house, and go to school every day.  When his parent sadly realize that there is nothing left to discover, they resign themselves to a boring life living in their long neglected house.  Oliver is delighted, and he is anticipating finally being settled.

Poor Oliver’s non-roaming life comes to an abrupt end.  After not even a day, his parents disappear.  They had taken their dingy out into the bay to explore the new islands that mysteriously appeared during their long absence from their house.  When the raft washes up on shore, minus his parents, Oliver knows he has to take matters into his own hands.  He grabs his explorer pack, hops in the dingy, and sets off in search of his missing mom and dad.

I loved Oliver.  He is a take-charge kid, and he doesn’t panic when his parents go missing.  He has had plenty of disaster training during his adventures with his dare-devil parents, and he immediately puts it to good use.  Little fazes him; not a talking seagull, a near-sighted mermaid, or even an island that isn’t really an island but a living,  breathing creature.  Okay, so the troop of sea monkeys almost does him in, but he quickly tamps down his fears and focuses on the task at hand.  He must save his parents from their own folly.

In addition to encountering one outlandish mishap after another, Oliver and the Seawigs is lavishly illustrated with amusing, cartoony pictures.  Working seamlessly with the prose, the illustrations add even more character to an already charming tale.  I believe this book will appeal equally to boys or girls, as well as their parents. 

Highly recommended.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:


A lively step up from early chapter books, this seafaring romp is packed with hilarious art, lovable misfits, meddlesome monkeys, and tons of kid appeal.

When Oliver’s explorer parents go missing, he sets sail on a rescue mission with some new, unexpected friends: a grumpy albatross, a nearsighted mermaid . . . even a living island! But the high seas are even more exciting, unusual, and full of mischief than Oliver could have imagined. Can he and his crew spar with sarcastic seaweed, outrun an army of sea monkeys, win a fabulous maritime fashion contest, and defeat a wicked sea captain in time to save Mom and Dad?

The post Review: Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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8. TURNING PAGES: Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens

Awhile back we met Hazel and Daisy in Murder Most Unladylike - or, in clunky American titling, MURDER IS BAD MANNERS (I have a horrible suspicion that ARSENIC FOR TEA will be marketed to Americans as POISON FOR LUNCH or another equally pedestrian... Read the rest of this post

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Geez, louise, can we even call it summer reading anymore!? I lost July, and now The Wees and the Littles started school today, the poor things, and the cousin slouches off, pouting, on Wednesday. I'm going to pretend that we've got at least until... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on TURNING PAGES: THE GREAT GOOD SUMMER, by LIZ GARTON SCANLON as of 8/18/2015 7:04:00 AM
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10. Cheap eReads – Who Let the Dogs Out?

Here are some YA and MG Kindle books featuring dogs, all priced at below 5 bucks! Click on the title to order. 


Boys Are Dogs (Annabelle Unleashed)  by Leslie Margolis (.99)

Middle-school boys act like wild animals. 
That’s what Annabelle discovers on her first day in her brand-new life. Birchwood Middle School is totally different from her old all-girls elementary. In fact, lots of things in Annabelle’s life are totally different now that she’s back from summer camp. There’s mom’s new boyfriend, a new house, new friends—even a new puppy that likes to chew on Annabelle’s clothes. Well, at least the puppy comes with a leash and a training manual! If only she could say the same for the boys . . .
Featuring Annabelle’s hilarious take on friendship, boys, and her all-new life, this novel / survival guide perfectly captures the joy—and agony—of junior high school. And it might just teach you how to tame the wildest beast of all, the teenage boy.


What the Dog Said by Randi Reisfeld ($1.99)

Ever since her police officer father was killed a few months ago, Grace Abernathy hasn’t wanted to do much of anything. She’s pulled away from her friends, her grades are plummeting . . . it’s a problem. The last thing Grace wants is to be dragged into her older sister Regan’s plan to train a shelter dog as a service dog. But Grace has no idea how involved she’ll get-especially when a mangy mutt named Rex starts talking to her. Has Grace gone off the deep end? Or might this dog be something really special-an angel? A spirit? Either way, he is exactly the therapy that Grace needs.

Me & Jack

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11. New and Notable Releases Week of August 20 Part Two Young Adult and Middle Grade

Here are some new and notable Young Adult and  Middle Grade releases for the week:


The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin

The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors

Reaper by K D McEntire


The Magnificent 12: The Key by Michael Grant

The Last Apprentice: Lure of the Dead by Joseph Delaney

Over You by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus


Smashed by Lisa Luedeke

The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore

Princess Academy: The Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale


Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel

Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams

Two or Three Things I Forgot To Tell You by Joyce Carol Oates

What’s on your shopping list this week?

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12. This Week’s New and Notable Young Adult and Middle Grade Books

Here are some new and notable YA and & MG books releasing the first week in September.  If the images don’t load, please hit refresh.  Click the widgets to order.


The City’s Son (The Skyscraper Throne) by Tom Pollock (Sep 8, 2012)    

Redemption (Hearts of Stone) by Veronique Launier (Sep 8, 2012)    

Silver (A Bandia Novel) by Talia Vance (Sep 8, 2012)


Skyship Academy: Crimson Rising by Nick James (Sep 8, 2012)    

Frozen by Mary Casanova (Sep 7, 2012)    

34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues (Sep 4, 2012)



Be My Enemy (Book Two of the Everness Series) by Ian McDonald (Sep 4, 2012)    

A Beautiful Friendship (Star Kingdom) by David Weber (Sep 4, 2012)    

Betrayal (Empty Coffin) by Gregg Olsen (Sep 4, 2012)



Blackwood (Strange Chemistry) by Gwenda Bond (Sep 4, 2012)    

Blink Once by Cylin Busby (Sep 4, 2012)    

The Book of the Night (Libyrinth) by Pearl North (Sep 4, 2012)




The Broken Lands by Kate Milford and Andrea Offermann (Sep 4, 2012)  

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr (Sep 4, 2012)    

Dead is a Killer Tune by Marlene Perez (Sep 4, 2012)




The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George (Sep 4, 2012)    

Entice (Embrace) by Jessica Shirvington (Sep 4, 2012)    

Envy (Fury) by Elizabeth Miles (Sep 4, 2012)



Fathomless by Jackson Pearce (Sep 4, 2012)    

Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught (Sep 4, 2012)    

I Swear by Lane Davis (Sep 4, 2012)



Immortal Lycanthropes by Hal Johnson and Teagan White (Sep 4, 2012)    

Island of Silence (Unwanteds) by Lisa McMann (Sep 4, 2012)    

Janitors, Book 2: Secrets of New Forest Academy by Tyler Whitesides (Sep 4, 2012)


Kieli, Vol. 7 (novel): As the Deep Ravine’s Wind Howls (Kieli (novel)) by Yukako Kabei (Sep 4, 2012)    

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (Sep 4, 2012)    

Origin by Jessica Khoury (Sep 4, 2012)


Rage Within (Dark Inside) by Jeyn Roberts (Sep 4, 2012)    

Shift (Strange Chemistry) by Kim Curran (Sep 4, 2012)    

Sweet Shadows (Sweet Venom) by Tera Lynn Childs (Sep 4, 2012)


Tiger’s Destiny (Book 4 in the Tiger’s Curse Series) by Colleen Houck (Sep 4, 2012)

Viva Jacquelina!: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Over the Hills and Far Away (Bloody Jack Adventures) by Louis A. Meyer (Sep 4, 2012)

What Came from the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt (Sep 4, 2012)


Claws by Mike Grinti and Rachel Grinti (Sep 1, 2012)

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron (Sep 1, 2012)

The Encyclopedia of Me by Karen Rivers (Sep 1, 2012)

Undead by Kirsty McKay (Sep 1, 2012)

What’s on your shopping list?

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13. This Week’s New and Notable YA and MG Releases – September 18

Here are some new and notable YA & MG releases for the week:

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

What’s Left of Me: The Hybrid Chronicles, Book One by Kat Zhang

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian

Butter by Erin Jade Lange

The Crown of Embers (Girl of Fire and Thorns) by  Rae Carson

Cursed by Jennifer Armentrout

The Dead Girls Detective Agency by Suzy Cox

Glass Heart by Amy Garvey

Homesick  by Kate Klise

Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride

The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Safekeeping by Karen Hesse

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette by Bianca Turetsky

Are any of these on your wish list? Can you recommend any?

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14. Waiting on Wednesday–White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Words can not express how wonderful White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan looks.  There is so much power in the love of a dog.  I have no doubt that with a little canine help, Zoe will be able to set Phillip back to rights.

In stores March 2013


A young boy tries to find his voice with the help of some four-legged friends in this novel from the Newbery-winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall.

Zoe’s family rescues dogs in need. There is always the sweet smell of dog and a warm body looking to cuddle or play. There is always a new dog to be saved and loved. Fur flies everywhere. It covers everything. Zoe’s house is never silent.

But the house across the street is always silent these days. A new family has moved in and Phillip, the boy, has stopped speaking. He doesn’t even want to try.

Zoe knows that saving dogs and saving boys are different jobs, but she learns that some parts are the same. Both take attention and care, understanding and time. And maybe just a bit of white fur flying.

From Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan, White Fur Flying is an endearing tale of companionship and hope.

What are you waiting on?

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15. Happily Ever After Giveaway Hop-Win Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler


Welcome to my Happily Ever After giveaway,  hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Valerie from Murphy’s Library.  This hop runs from October 9 to October 14, and you can win lots of new reads.  Click here for a complete list of blogs participating in the hop.

I am giving away an ARC of Diane Zahler’s MG fantasy Princess of The Wild Swans.  I love Diane Zahler’s fairy tale retellings, and I think you will, too!


About the book:

Princess Meriel’s brothers have been cursed. A terrible enchantment–cast by their conniving new stepmother–has transformed the handsome princes into swans. They now swim forlornly on a beautiful heart-shaped lake that lies just beyond the castle walls.

Meriel will do whatever it takes to rescue her beloved brothers. But she must act quickly. If Heart Lake freezes, her brothers will be forced to fly south or perish.

With help from her newfound friends Riona and Liam–a pretty half-witch and her clever brother–Meriel vows to finish a seemingly impossible task. If she completes it, her brothers may be saved.

But if she fails . . . all will be lost.

Entering is easy! Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following! US addresses only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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16. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett (Brett Helquist, illustrator)

If you like The Westing Game, you’re sure to like Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquist (illustrator of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events).   The book jacket says Chasing Vermeer “is a puzzle, wrapped in a mystery, disguised as an adventure, and delivered as a work of art.” A famous painting by Jan Vermeer known as A Woman Writing has disappeared and its mysterious thief has threatened to destroy it. Sixth-graders Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay start out as classmates but soon become friends and fellow sleuths as they boldly venture to follow a trail of clues and track down the missing painting.  Using their wits and intuition, they solve the puzzle of the painting’s disappearance and its mysterious thief  . Chasing Vermeer reminds me a bit of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Petra finds an old used book called Lo! that tells of coincidences throughout time.  As Petra thinks, “Why wasn’t more time . . .  spent studying things that were unknown or not understood .  . . ?  . . . To try to piece together a meaning behind events that didn’t seem to fit?” Perhaps there are no coincidences–perhaps life is really full of patterns and cosmic synchronicity.  Petra dreams of [...]

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17. Cover Shot! Summerkin by Sarah Prineas


Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I loved Winterling by Sarah Prineas, and I am so looking forward to reading the follow up, Summerkin.  The cover just rocks!  In stores April 2013.

From now until 2/4/2013, you can purchase Winterling (digital) for $1.99 from most booksellers.  Buy it!  It was one of the best books that I read in 2012


Down through the Way she fell, feeling the wind and the pressing darkness, the dizzy thump when she landed on the bank. She was through. The air felt softer here, the shadows deeper—and the pull of her connection to the land settled into her bones.

In the Summerlands, time moves slowly, roots grow deeply, and change is not welcomed. But change is needed.

After defeating the wicked Mor and freeing her kin from deadly oaths made to this false ruler, Fer is now the rightful Lady of the land. Yet her people don’t know what to make of their new Lady’s strange ways, and neither do the High Ones, the rulers of the magical realm, for Fer is an outsider—half human.

To prove herself worthy of the Summerlands crown, Fer is summoned to compete in an epic contest where her strengths and skills will be tested and her loyalties challenged. Can she trust Rook, the puck she calls friend? Can she trust herself? If Fer fails, she will lose her land and the Way will be closed to her forever.

With stunning prose, Sarah Prineas weaves an enchanting adventure in which Fer must decide if she’s ready to rule and just how far she’ll go to protect her kin.

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18. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett (Brett Helquist, illustrator)

If you like The Westing Game, you’re sure to like Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquist (illustrator of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events).   The book jacket says Chasing Vermeer “is a puzzle, wrapped in a mystery, disguised as an adventure, and delivered as a work of art.” A famous painting by Jan Vermeer known as A Woman Writing has disappeared and its mysterious thief has threatened to destroy it. Sixth-graders Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay start out as classmates but soon become friends and fellow sleuths as they boldly venture to follow a trail of clues and track down the missing painting.  Using their wits and intuition, they solve the puzzle of the painting’s disappearance and its mysterious thief  . Chasing Vermeer reminds me a bit of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Petra finds an old used book called Lo! that tells of coincidences throughout time.  As Petra thinks, “Why wasn’t more time . . .  spent studying things that were unknown or not understood .  . . ?  . . . To try to piece together a meaning behind events that didn’t seem to fit?” Perhaps there are no coincidences–perhaps life is really full of patterns and cosmic synchronicity.  Petra dreams of [...]

0 Comments on Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett (Brett Helquist, illustrator) as of 1/29/2013 3:26:00 PM
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19. Saturday Trailer: Dork Diaries

What better day for book trailers than a Saturday?author2404078_2075496634438197238092626

Rachel Renee Russell is no doubt one of the most successful African American MG authors today. She currently has 6 books in her popular Dork Diaries Series published by Simon and Schuster with a 7th book scheduled for release later this year. I’m not always good about reading  MG books, but every time I announce another Dork Diary I want to get my hands a copy and go sit in a McDonalds and read straight through.

I have two videos for you this morning.You won’t be able to sit still while you watch the first video, a lively Dork Diaries trailer. The second is a brief introduction to the talented Rachel Renee Russell who was also interviewed here on the Graphic Novel Reporter.

Filed under: Saturday Trailers Tagged: Dork Diaries, MG, Rachel Renee Russell, trailers

0 Comments on Saturday Trailer: Dork Diaries as of 2/16/2013 2:35:00 PM
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20. Three Times Lucky

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage, Dial, 2012, 256 pp, ISBN: 0803736703

As an infant who washed ashore in a hurricane, tied to a scrap from a billboard, Mo(ses) LeBeau surely does have luck on her side. (Even if all of that luck hasn't helped her find her Upstream Mother in the last eleven years)

But now Mo and her best friend Dale are going to need more than luck if they're going to solve a murder and bring Mo's adopted family home safe again!

Sheila Turnage's Three Times Lucky found it's way into my book bag via School Library Journal's Battle of the Books. The very first thing that grabbed my attention was Ms. Mo LeBeau herself. That girl is downright hilarious! I have a (bad?) habit of turning down pages when there's a line I want to remember, and I turned the first three corners down before realizing that Mo was going to make me laugh out loud, or at least crack a grin, on pretty near every page.

Everyone else in Tupelo Landing, NC is just as colorful a character, and the town itself reminded me of a more country-fied version of Stars Hollow -  everybody knows everybody else's business and, for the most part, they love each other just the same.

The plot of the story was where I got stuck. It was about a murder, but the writing was just so funny and cute that I never got that creepy murder feeling. In fact, for a long time I was sure that the murder was going to end up being a hoax. There's another serious plot line going on at the same time, regarding Dale's alcoholic, abusive father, but the reader never actually sees this firsthand until the very end, so again... I just wasn't getting the intense vibe that the story probably deserved. For me, the quick-witted, clever narration from 11-year-old Mo just never seemed to gel with the actual story she was telling.

But maybe that's part of the point? I mean, Mo was only 11, and she was 100% into solving the case with her Desperado Detective partner Dale, so maybe she was just telling the story as seriously as a 11-year-old is able to? Help me out here, book lovers! I know a number of you have read this one and loved it. What do you think I'm missing?

Three Times Lucky would be perfect for middle grade readers (in this case, I'm picturing grades 4 - 6) who like to laugh and maybe even solve a mystery.

BOB Prediction:
Three Times Lucky goes up against Endangered in the first round, and if I were the judge... I would give it to Endangered, no question. 

Quotable Quotes:
- "Demons!" he gasped, pointing vaguely in my direction. I sighed. Dale's family is Baptist. - Mo

- I tried not to sound impressed. "You stole Mr. Jesse's boat?" He studied his fingernails. "I wouldn't say stole," he said. "But I did borrow it pretty strong." - Mo and Dale

2 Comments on Three Times Lucky, last added: 3/11/2013
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21. Male Monday: Matt de la Pena

Matt-de-la-PenaMatt de la Peña has released a new book. Infinity Ring Book 4: Curse of the Ancients is part of an MG series where each book is written by a different author. (A librarian’s nightmare to shelf!!)

Sera has a secret. She’s seen the future, and it is terrifying. Unfortunately, she can’t do anything to prevent the Cataclysm while stranded with Dak and Riq thousands of years in the past. Their only hope 511EObkUGHL._AA160_lies with the ancient Maya, a mysterious people who claim to know a great deal about the future. Is there more to these ancients than meets the eye?

I was surprised when he announced the release on Facebook because I hadn’t seen it coming. Looking at the age, it was recommending for ages 8-12. MG???

Sure, Matt wrote A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis and it appealing to younger readers, but having heard Matt speak twice, having read his books, I’d say his passion is YA.

He speaks about his own personal coming of age experience with his dad, how he connects with his high school readers and 51F91dNLIbL._AA160_what it has been like growing up as a Latino, finding his own voice. He’s so personable that you realize storytelling comes natural to him.

And perhaps that’s how he found himself writing this book that publishers recommend for 8-12 year olds.Honestly, I’m glad to see anything Matt writes, I just can’t get over this 8-12 thing. Here’s why.

Publishers consider middle grade (MG) books written for ages 8-12. Upper middle grade books are 10-14 and young adult books are 12-18.

Educators identify elementary grades as 1-5, middle grades as 6-8 and high school as 9-12.

Depending on local laws and when birthdays fall, children can enter the first  grade at ages 5, 6 or 7.  Using, the median age, a child would be 6 in the first grade and 8 in the third grade. When a child enters middle grades (6th grade) she would be 12 and 14 in the 9th grade, a freshman in high school.

51isy-OCVHL._AA160_Essentially, they’re recommending Matt’s book for third graders. Up to my shoulders in YA books, I don’t quite have time to read Curse of the Ancients to see where I think it will fit best, but I may be able to work in The Living which releases in November. It’s a YA book, Matt’s fifth novel.

Matt de la Peña is the author of four critically-acclaimed young adult novels: Ball Don’t Lie, Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here and I Will Save You. He’s also the author of the award-winning picture book A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis (illustrated by Kadir Nelson). Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific where he attended school on a full basketball scholarship.

 de la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn NY.Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific, where he attended school on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. source


Filed under: male monday Tagged: Male Monday, Matt de la Pena, MG, YA

0 Comments on Male Monday: Matt de la Pena as of 6/17/2013 9:13:00 PM
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22. Review: Sports Illustrated Kids Pro Files: Baseball


Title: Sports Illustrated Kids Pro Files: Baseball

Publisher:  Time

ISBN: 9781603202381


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

A must-have for every young baseball fan and player, "Pro Files: Baseball" showcases 15 of the big league’s hottest stars and fathers through "Sports Illustrated: Kids’" signature content: great writing, fun trivia, amazing statistics, and dynamic photography. Full color.


Even though I am not a huge sports fan, I enjoy reviewing these SI Kids books.  They are attractively packaged, engagingly written, and filled with glossy action shots.  In addition to giving tips on how to play like a pro, each featured player has an introduction which includes their stats and career highlights.  While this is nice, I appreciated the background information for each player even more.  The human interest elements made the book accessible to me, a self-admitted non-fan of baseball.  Each player also has a selection entitled Inside Information, which lists their favorite foods, movies, cartoon characters, and even video games.  That’s the stuff that I’m interested in.  It’s great to know all of Justin Verlander’s stats, but since I don’t get into the game, those are just random numbers to me.

I took this book to work to show to a co-worker, and he really liked reading through it, too.  He is a huge baseball fan, and while he questioned some of the players that were included, overall he agreed that the featured athletes were among the top of their game.  He liked the photographs, which are printed on bright, glossy paper and capture a variety of intense action shots. He agreed that the text will interest both fans and those not so enthusiastic about the game.  The tips are fun to read, too, though I doubt that I will ever be able to advance my skills to the level of Ichiro Suzuki or Dustin Pedroia.  Chris, on the other hand, insists that with practice, he will be able to pitch just like Verlander.  I remain slightly skeptical.

If you have a baseball fan at home, this would be a great purchase for them.  I bet that even reluctant readers will be cheerfully engrossed learning about the players, their backgrounds, and the secrets behind their moves. 

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher


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23. Review: Storybound by Marissa Burt


Title: Storybound

Author: Marissa Burt

Publisher: HarperCollins

ISBN: 978-0062020529


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When Una Fairchild stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, she thinks nothing of opening the cover and diving in. But instead of paging through a regular novel, Una suddenly finds herself Written In to the land of Story—a world filled with Heroes and Villains and fairy-tale characters.

But not everything in Story is as magical as it seems. Una must figure out why she has been Written In—and fast—before anyone else discovers her secret. Together with her new friend Peter and a talking cat named Sam, Una digs deep into Story’s shadowy past. She quickly realizes that she is tied to the world in ways she never could have imagined—and it might be up to her to save it.


I am having a fantastic winning streak of wonderful Middle-Grade novels so far in 2012.  Storybound turned out to be another winner.  The premise is fantastic, and I could not put the book down.  I was literally glued to my reading chair for an entire afternoon as I frantically turned pages, eager to see what kind of trouble Una would find herself in.

Like Harry Potter, Una has never known her parents.  She has been shuffled through the foster care system, and she currently lives with Ms. McDonough, an odd woman who speaks to her cats far more frequently than she speaks to Una.  Una is fine with that, because she finally has some time to herself after being fostered in big families where she never felt that she belonged.  She feels invisible, both at her foster home and at school.  One day when Una is reading in the library in the basement at school, she finds a mysterious book.  A book about her.  Before she even has a chance to catch her breath, she finds herself sucked into the book, trapped as a character in the story.  Now she must  find her way back out again, all without getting killed.  Whoa!

In the land of Story, Una finds must become a student at the school where the children of Story learn how to be characters in books.  All of the citizens of Story have roles in books, and they all have to behave in a manner consistent with the character they are playing.  I loved the concept of this world.  Una’s ally, Peter, is learning to be a Hero.  He takes his studies very seriously, and when Una is magically zapped into one of his practical exams, he is not very happy when she screws it up for him.  With Peter’s help, Una learns that she was Written In.  Peter is shocked, because no one has been Written In since the Tale Keepers overthrew the evil Muses and took control of Story.

I am going to gush about how much I adored Una.  She is resourceful, clever, and loyal, and she is my favorite kind of protagonist.  She meets setback after setback, but each one makes her more determined to figure out what is going on.  Something is stinky in the land of Story, and Una won’t rest until she discovers what it is.  There is something wrong with the Tale Keepers, and she doesn’t believe that the Muses were evil.  With the help of Peter and Sam, a talking cat, she  searches for the truth, even when it puts her in mortal danger.  And Una is in a lot of danger.  She doesn’t belong in Story, and she needs to get back home before someone fi

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24. New and Notable Releases Week of August 6 Part Two–Young Adult and Middle Grade

Here are some new and notable Young Adult and Middle Grade releases for the week:

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

The Girl Behind the Glass by Jane Kelley

True Blue by Jane Smiley

Blood Fever by Veronica Wolff

The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms #3) by Cinda WIlliams Chima

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Nevermore by James Patterson

Wake by Amanda Hocking

Rift by Andrea Cremer

Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman

Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear

Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

The End of Infinity by Matt Myklusch

Canterwood Crest: Comeback by jessica Burkhart

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead


Auracle by Gina Rosati

Between You and Me by Marisa Calin

Courtship and Curse by Marissa Doyle

Are any of these on your to buy list?

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25. New and Notable Releases Week of August 13 Part Two Young Adult and Middle Grade

Here are some new and notable Young Adult and Middle Grade releases for the week:


The Wednesdays by Julie Bourbeau

After Eli by Rebecca Rupp

Department 19: The Rising by Will Hill


Spookygirl by Jill Baguchinsky

The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Long

Blood Crave by Jennifer Knight


Counting  Backwards by Laura Lascarso

The Fallen 4 by Thomas E Sniegoski

Intentions by Deborah Heligman


The Kill Order by James Dashner

Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

Kizzy Ann Stamps by Jeri Watts


My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

The Mourning Emporium by Michelle Lovric

Touched by Cyn Balog


The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent

What’s on your shopping list this week?

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