Thursday, March 26, 2015

Top Ten Books: Recently Added To My To-Be-Read List

This weeks topic is Ten Books Recently Added to My To-Be-Read List


1.  Rook by Daniel O'Malley  This is the blurb from Goodreads that had me wanting to read this:  "The body you are wearing used to be mine." So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her." 

2.  The Forbidden Library by Diango Wexler  Mysterious library, books, talking cat, yep sounds good.  

3. The Castaways of the Flying Dutchman was recommended by fellow middle grade book blogger Erik Weibel at after hearing that I enjoyed Brian Jacques Redwall series.


4.  I added Ice Like Fire, because it is the sequel to Snow Like Ashes, which I've just started reading. 

5.  Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway  Two best friends since childhood are reunited after one of them was kidnapped by their father. Sounded interesting

6.  Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George is a historical fiction set in Romania, it includes shape-shifters, romance, plus she wrote Tuesdays at the Castle a MG I enjoyed reading.


7.  The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein, he wrote Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library which I enjoyed.   

8.  The Wrinkled Crown by Anne Nesbet I read a post she did for Project Middle Grade Mayhem about research she does for her books and reading a nineteenth century book on instrument making for The Wrinkled Crown. 


9 &10  I love the covers and both of them make we want to read the books right now.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

MG Realistic Fiction/Humor: The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett

The Terrible Two  by Jory John and Mac Barnett
Published: January 13th 2015  by Harry N. Abrams
Genres: Middle Grade Realistic Fiction/Humor
Pages: 224 
Format: Hardcover
Source:  Public Library

One of my favorite things to share with my child growing up was nightly read-aloud's.  Some of our favorites were the Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne and Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger by Kevin Bolger.  There's a line at the beginning of the Magic Tree House that repeats itself in almost every book and ends with..."The tree house started to spin faster and faster! Then everything was still."  We came to expect that line in every book that we read. With Sir Fartsalot, we got silly juvenile humor with fun wordplay and puns.  The Terrible Two, combined those two things for us.  

Then came the stage where they're able to read on their own, and your left wondering are they going to want to read?  Love it as much as I do?    I've been very lucky that my reluctant reader has moved to liking reading, I say liking cause it still isn't the first choice in activities, but I'll take it.  It was a slow process of encouraging taking books on car trips, to restaurants, on vacation.   Well and reading and buying lot's of books, plus reading in front of my child.  I still leave books laying around hoping that some will be picked up and carried off to be read.   Occasionally, we'll even read the same book passing it back and forth with one another. I say all of this because, true read aloud's together, where we're flipping pages together,  haven't happened in awhile...well until now, thanks to The Terrible Two.  After we went to the library to pickup my holds, my reader started to read this in the car to me.  Kind of a mom you need to hear this.  Needless to say, we loved The Terrible Two!

Miles has just moved to Yawnee Valley and he isn't really happy about it because, in his last school he was known as the best prankster.  But, on the first day of school, he finds out that there may already be another prankster in Yawnee Valley and this guy has some skills.  We're talking parking Principal Barkin's car at the top of a flight of stairs, with no apparent way to get it down skills.  Being the new guy, Miles is immediately blamed by the Principal.  So, Miles sets out to  figure out who the mystery prankster is, while not getting blamed for any pranks himself.  But Miles may have met his match as the school prankster continues to outsmart him at every turn.   

First off, the illustrations by Kevin Cornell are hilarious, they are so wonderfully detailed.   We loved the full page ones and especially the illustrations for chapter 11 which alternate between Miles and Principal Barkin doing the same things.  Just hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny.  We loved the dialogue, characters, humor, even the facts on cows were entertaining.  Here's hoping that the cows still have a place in future books, or at least pranks.  The Terrible Two also had a repetitive line that each time  "Somewhere in the distance, a cow mooed."  showed up, my child and I smiled.  We even started to wait for it and anticipate when it would show up.    This was such a fun story to read together filled with laughs.  We stumbled over the names Miles and Niles a few times, but it just added to the fun.  Now that these two prankster have teamed up let the hijinks ensue.  

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit

This weeks topic is Ten Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit

1& 2.   Growing up I used to share these beautiful editions of Grimm's and Anderson's Fairy Tales with my sisters.  My family was big on hand me downs and it applied to the books that we read too.  Although, whenever Scholastic had a book fair, we each got to pick out a book.    Sometimes, it even led to some arguments over who the owner of the book was, eventually we learned to write our names inside our books.   I wish I could recall who the publisher was and the edition that I read as a child, but sadly I think these books are long gone from my parents house.  

3 & 4.
  304917  428328
Are You There God?  It's Me, Margaret and Otherwise Known As Sheila the Great by Judy Blume  Loved these books as a child, but haven't revisited it in years.  

5 & 6  
77767 776984  I used to read and re-read the whole series every year growing up, these where some of my favorites that I especially would love to read again.  

I'm gonna cheat here a little bit.  I've re-visited  Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, but have yet to read any of the others in the series.  I so adore Pippi and would love to read In The South Seas about the rest of her adventures.  

8 & 9
   920982 1450682 
Ellen Tebbits and Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary ahh, I loved these books.  Mine became so dog eared and really needs to be replaced. 

6781999 I suppose I could pick any of the Nancy Drew books in the series, I haven't re-read any of them.  But, I keep thinking that someday I will. 

I just noticed that I picked out all the original covers for the books that I owned, I'm sure there are newer ones now, I may need to go back and see how they've changed over the years.  

So what books are on your lists of books to revisit?  Fill free to share your links in the comments.   

Monday, March 23, 2015

MG Realistic Fiction review: Jack & Louisa: Act 1 by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead


Jack & Louisa: Act 1   by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead
Published: February 10th 2015  by Grosset & Dunlap
Genres: Middle Grade Realistic Fiction
Pages: 240 
Format: Hardcover
Source:  Public Library

Jack is a twelve-year-old Broadway star who moves with his parents from New York City to Shaker Heights, Ohio after having been fired from a production.  You see, Jack's voice suddenly changed and well he can't make the notes like he used to.  On his first day in town, he meets his next door neighbor Louisa, Lou for short.  Lou is what you call a MTN, or "musical theater nerd."  When Lou notices that Jack's t-shirt has the logo from the Broadway playbill for Mary Poppins, she thinks she has found a kindred spirit.   But, Jack has vowed to leave the spotlight behind and doesn't want to get involved with musicals anymore, choosing to give soccer a try instead.  However, Jack underestimated just how persistent Lou can be, and she really wants him to join the cast for "Into the Woods."  

I really wanted to read this because of the cover, which I think is wonderful. Although, now I think it gives the impression that there are going to be illustrations in the story, and well I was disappointed that there weren't.  Especially since it seems to be geared toward 8-12 year-old's and the two main characters are done so well on the cover. 

 Although,  I'm not the intended audience for this book, having only participated in theater or musical's from the pit orchestra, I do enjoy watching an occasional production (thinking of you Le Miserables, Grease, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) and I found Jack & Louisa utterly delightful.   Keenan-Bolger and Wetherhead bring their own experiences as Broadway performers and co-creators for Submissions Only (a web series about struggling actors from New York), to Jack & Louisa.  Sprinkle in some theatrical references, terms and Broadway musicals and we've got an entertaining story.  Plus as a bonus, the parents are involved and encouraging their children.   Think the book Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle.  Jack and Louisa is told in alternating first person and it worked very well for me.  I got the sense of Jack's insecurities about moving to a new place and being found out about being fired from his last production, while at the same time Lou's wanting to learn from Jack' experiences and to get to know him better. There is plenty of humor and the friendship they have over a shared passion for theater is very sweet. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett for First Line Friday

22509955Jill  at Owlforya.blogspot occasionally does a First Line Friday where she share's the first line of a book that she is currently reading, finished, or a book that she hasn't read before.  Today I thought I would join in....

Today's Book:  The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett

" Welcome to Yawnee Valley, an idyllic place with rolling green hills that slope down to creeks, and cows as far as the eye can see. There's one now. "

I picked this up on Wednesday and my kiddo and I are reading this aloud together, I didn't even have to beg or plead :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books On My Spring TBR List

This weeks topic is Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List 

1.  Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions 


Seaborne #1: The Lost Prince by 
Finding Serendipity by 
Fish In A Tree by 
Jack by 
Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures by 
Crown of Three by 
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy by 
What's on your Spring reading list?

Monday, March 16, 2015

MG Review: Everblaze (Keeper of the Lost Cities) by Shannon Messenger


Everblaze (Keeper of the Lost Cities #3)  by Shannon Messenger

Published: November 4th, 2014  by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Genres: Middle Grade Fantasy/Adventure
Pages: 624
Format: Hardcover
Source:  Public Library

From Goodreads:  "Sophie Foster is ready to fight back.

Her talents are getting stronger, and with the elusive Black Swan group ignoring her calls for help, she’s determined to find her kidnappers—before they come after her again. 

But a daring mistake leaves her world teetering on the edge of war, and causes many to fear that she has finally gone too far. And the deeper Sophie searches, the farther the conspiracy stretches, proving that her most dangerous enemy might be closer than she realizes.   In this nail-biting third book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, Sophie must fight the flames of rebellion, before they destroy everyone and everything she loves."

It's been a little over a year since I've read the second book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series and what with the fourth book coming out in November, I thought it was time to get a little caught up.  You can read my reviews of the first and second books here and here. The first thing I noticed when picking up the book was its beautiful cover, each one is more gorgeous then the next.  I love how it features a different character alongside Sophie and it seems to relate to something pivotal in the story.  It was also hard not to notice the lengthy page count, 624 pages.   This book looks huge and a little intimidating, but I'm not easily discouraged.  I didn't however expect that I would finish reading this within a day,  I truthfully couldn't put it down. 

I love how Messenger has created this interesting world with all these characters that have unique abilities (telepathy, pyrokinetics, and infliction etc.).  Some obliviously good and others, well they can cause horrible fires.  Sophie is one of the exceptional ones, because her abilities were created by the Black Swan organization. Why?  She doesn't really know. Everblaze continues the plot of Sophie trying to piece together her past with plenty of danger, action and mystery to solve.  There are also plenty of twists, which I didn't see coming.  Most of all are the friendships and family.  I don't mind that the story is slowly unfolding across the series, it gave me an opportunity to get to know Fitz, Keefe, Dex and Biana better.  And I'll admit, I'm caught up in the who will Sophie choose between the three guys vying for her attention.  Messenger certainly doesn't shy away from putting her characters into tough positions and once again there are some very heartfelt moments.  Plus, that cliffhanger ending.  Still more lovely to look forward to and hopefully more answers as well.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway for Chronicles from Chateau Moines by Evelyne Holingue

Chroniclesfrom (1)

Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction
Ebook, 210 pages
Published October 11th, 2014
by Burel
In exchange for an honest review, 
an ebook was provided by the author for free. 

Goodreads           Amazon         Barnes and Noble

Chronicles from Chateau Moines by Evelyne Holingue
September 1970: Scott’s mother has recently died and his father gets the crazy idea to move his family from California to Normandy. Now Scott has to learn to live without his mom while adjusting to France. In his seventh grade class there is only Ibrahim who comes from another country. Scott doesn’t even want to play his guitar anymore. Why does his father think that life will be better so far from home?
Scott has no idea that his arrival is also a challenge to Sylvie. While her best friend is excited to have an American boy at school, Sylvie cannot say one word to Scott. She can’t even write good songs in her notebook anymore. Why is life so different since 
Scott moved to Château Moines?
Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War protest era and told from the perspectives of twelve-year old Scott and Sylvie, this is a story about loss and friendship, music and peace, and also about secrets.
Although this is a work of fiction, the cultural, social, and historical background of the early 1970s in France and the United States inspired the writing. At the end of the book the reader will find a list of the songs, the names of singers, and bands mentioned through the novel as well as some elements about fashion, immigration in France, the Vietnam War, and other cultural, social, and historical facts relevant to the period of time.

Chronicles from Chateau Moines takes place during the 1970's in the fictional town of Chateau Moines, France. Scott, his sister and father have just moved from California looking to separate themselves from the memories of their mothers death. Scott's sister is adjusting well, already making friends with a local girl. Scott is trying to overcome some of the language barriers and makes friends with Ibrahim, an immigrant from Algeria. 

Sylvie is a local French girl who lives with her mother, father, and younger sister and is passionate about writing songs in her notebook. She dreams of one day moving away to Paris to sing and write songs. When Scott meets Annie, the best friend of Sylvie, Sylvie's and Annie's friendship is tested.  By accepting an invitation to meet up with Scott, Sylvie has skipped out on her best friend and sets off a series of misunderstandings and typical twelve year-old hurt feelings. 

Chronicles from Chateau Moines is told in the alternating points of view of Scott and Sylvie, which I think works very well and keeps the story moving along at a nice pace. It's actually very engaging, because you get a look at the village from someone who has just moved there and is trying to learn the language, and then you have Sylvie, who has lived here her whole life. Scott brings the American influences of music, clothing and his views on the Vietnam War and Sylvie is the one who adds French words and phrases to the story, relates village life as well as the customs and foods of France. It was very interesting to see the town and each other through their eyes.  Scott seemed more likable to me of the two.  He takes the brunt of Sylvie's moodiness and I had a difficult time understanding why she seemed to show such disdain for him.  Blaming him for her problems with Annie, while at the same time clearly liking him.  Maybe it's just that I've forgotten what it's like to be twelve. Scott on the other hand, had a wonderful love for his mother that really showed in the ways that he tried to honor and remember her.  

Before Scott's mother died, she took him to anti war demonstrations protesting the American involvement in the Vietnam War. It isn't central to the story that the reader understand the causes of the Vietnam War, just that Scott has very strong convictions about the war. Which is the reason he wears sandals instead of shoes, because he promised himself he wouldn't until the war was over. Scott holds on to his mothers memory very tightly and utilizes this protest as a means to honor her. This becomes the spark that unites Scott and Sylvie in organizing a Peace Rally in the town of Chateau Moines. Which goes to show the influence that one person can have. I loved the way the town came together around the Peace Rally it highlights both the good and bad sides to other characters from the village. 

Chronicles from Chateau Moines draws its inspiration from the cultural, social and historical events from the early 1970's. You can really tell that Holingue did a lot of research, as she cites many bands, songs, singers, and fashion trends and includes references for each at the back of the book. Many cultural icons like Janis Joplin and historical events like the Washington D.C., Peace March and protests to the Vietnam War are also included. I love how it gives you the feel of the time period even if you weren't old enough to recall it and there is a nice balance of both French and American cultural.

Chronicles from Chateau Moines is a beautiful story about friendship, family and grieving the loss of a parent.  The story will immerse you in the cultural, social and historical events of the 1970's while touching on the topics of the anti-war movement, and racism.  Perfect for someone looking for a middle grade historical fiction set during this time period.  

Favorite line:  "The street, the sidewalks, and the roofs are coated with snow, and Chateau Moines looks like a fancy cake, iced with white frosting.  I feel it impossible not to believe in the hope of peace when everything is white and silent."  


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Two (2) kindle copies of Chronicles from Chateau Moines (INT)
Ends March 18th
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About the Author:
I was born and raised in Normandy, France, where I spent most of my childhood reading. evelyne0115
My first published piece of writing was a poem about a man spending Christmas behind bars. I was eleven years old and wasn’t paid for my work, but I was hooked.
I studied French Literature at the Université de Caen and at the Sorbonne in Paris and worked in a publishing house before moving to California, following my husband.
It was a challenging time in my life as I was leaving my own career, my family, my friends and my beloved Paris behind.  But how could I say no to the dreams of the man I love?
Readers enjoy escaping the familiar for the unknown.  Being a foreigner is discovering the unknown day after day, not only for the time of a book. However, since most things in life come with a silver lining, I credit this move for giving me the opportunity to write. Through my words, I share my affection for my native and adoptive countries that I love equally.
Find Evelyne Holingue at:  Website  Goodreads

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