Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary

The Night Parade by 

The Night ParadeFormat:  Hardcover
Pages:  320
Release Date:  January 5th, 2016 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Genre:  MG Fantasy
Source: Review copy provided by the  author in exchange for an honest review. 

First Line:  "From the back seat, Saki sent another desperate message on her phone."

Saki is on the way to visit her grandmother's village with her family, yet she would've rather stayed in Tokyo spending time with her friends shopping in the city and talking about boys.  Instead, she's stuck in the middle of nowhere, without even proper cell reception celebrating the Obon Festival (a Japanese festival of souls or a time when the spirits of one's ancestor visit their relatives and their family leave offerings and clean the gravestones.)  The whole thing just makes Saki sad, now that her grandfather won't be there to celebrate with them.  While at the festivities in town, Saki takes a moment to wander off to sneak in some needed cell phone time and runs into a few local kids, who goad her into going up to her families graveyard.  While there, they pressure her to ring a bell as a punishment for a game that they had been playing.  Saki hesitantly agrees, until she realizes that by ringing the bell, she might just have set a death curse into action and her only hope of stopping it is to walk with three spirit guides along the night parade to the shrine at the top of the mountainside.  

At first, it's really hard to feel sorry for Saki.  She seemed pretty self-absorbed and takes the importance of family traditions for granted, even cutting corners on some of the tasks that her grandmother asks for help with for the festival.  Yet, as Saki started to feel the consequences of her choice to ring the bell, she also seemed to grow and change.  She starts to realize what is important to her and I really started to like her more.  The Night Parade included Japanese mythology, and I liked how there was a balance of familiar things like Jonken (a Japanese version of rock, paper, scissors) and Kokkun-san (a game similar to Ouija board) as well as all the lovely references to Japanese foods.  There were also some Japanese words that I was able to figure out from the context of the sentence.  I really enjoyed learning more about the Obon Festival and the Night Parade, the three spirit guides kinda reminded me of  A Christmas Carol, minus the refrences to the past present and future.  Yet, each one does help Saki learn a little bit more about herself and especially about the true meaning of friendship.  Overall, a very fun and enjoyable read.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books I wish I had read as a kid

Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish  This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a Freebie or pick any topic of my choice.  So, I'm going with Ten Books I Wish I Had Read As A Kid.  Somehow growing up I seemed to miss out on a lot of the classics. I'm not sure if it was because my head was stuck in Anderson's Fairytales or whether it was because of my sister and I fighting over who got to read the next book in the Little House on the Praire series from the box set we got from the school book fair.   All I know is, I feel like I missed out on some books that I know I would've loved as a kid.  This will be a mixture of books that I haven't read yet and ones that I read as an adult, but know kid me would've loved. 

Books that I still want to read:  

24213161011151.  I always feel like I've read Peter Pan, but I know that I haven't yet.  I even started to read Peter and the Starcatchers once by Dave Berry, but then stopped because I wanted to read Peter Pan first. Must fix this soon.  

2.  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.  There really is no excuse for this one, I even purchased three different copies of it recently.  


3485733&4.  The Borrowers and Wind in the Willows are two books that I know I would've enjoyed.  



5&6.  I've always been curious about The Velveteen Rabbit and only know James and the Giant Peach from the movie sadly.  

Books I've read as an adult and wish I'd read as a kid. 

782854371907.  I would have loved The Tale of Despereaux, an adventurous mouse wanting to be a hero.  Yep, just the kind of book for me.  

8.  Somehow Eloise speaks to the child in me.  I love her adventurous spirit and to dream of exploring The Plaza.  She fits in with my love of Pippi Longstocking.  

23257622109841 9&10  Harriet the Spy and Emily of New Moon are two more books that I've only read recently but really enjoyed.  

Did I hit on any of your favorites? Or are there any books that you've read as an adult, but wished that you would've read as a kid?  Feel free to leave a comment or link to your own Top Ten Tuesday.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

MG Realistic Fiction: Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson

Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson
Format:  ARC paperback
Pages:  300
Release Date:  June 21st 2016 by Walden Pond Press
Genre:  MG Realistic Fiction
Source: Review copy provided by the  publisher in exchange for an honest review via a Giveaway hosted at Word Spelunking 

 My first introduction to John David Anderson's books was when I read The Dungeoneers for Round One of the MG Speculative Fiction Cybils, it even made it onto the finalists list. The Dungeoneers was one of my favorite books from last year.   Needless to say, when I saw that Anderson had a new book coming out and he was delving into realistic fiction, I was pretty excited to read it.  The premise sounded awesome.  

Ms. Bixby's Last Day is the kind of story that packs a punch, it centers around the tough subject of a beloved teacher who is very ill and the three students who want to give her the perfect day she has always dreamed of.  Steve is the genius, Topher is the creative artist and Brand is the new kid at school, who at first was just looking for a place to eat his lunch when he met the other two.  Since then they have been pretty good friends.  Friends who know very little about each other, except for maybe that they all like video games and pizza, but still eat lunch together every day.  Ms. Bixby is their teacher and someone who has become very important to each of them,  just how much the other doesn't know.  So, when Ms. Bixby becomes so ill that she has to leave before the end of school year party, naturally they are distraught.  There was so much that each of them had wanted to tell her.    When they also find out that Ms. Bixby's condition has gotten worse and she is now being transferred to a hospital out of town, the trio plan to skip school and visit her in the hospital. What ensues is a road trip across town gathering all of the items Ms. Bixby said makes for a "perfect day."  Their trip has its obstacles, but somehow they seem to manage to have their celebration with Ms. Bixby after all.   The beauty of Ms. Bixby's Last Day lies in finding out just what each of the boys connection to Ms. Bixby was and why she was so important to them. I just love how the story alternates between each of the three boys and we learn a little bit more about each of them.   It's such a touching story filled with humorous moments, stories about the boys at school, their home life. These three kids are so realistically portrayed that I found myself sobbing buckets when I reached the end.  I truly hope that Anderson writes another story about Topher, Steve and Brand.  Even though the book has its sad moments, Anderson always seemed to find a way to add lighter tones to the story too and by the end of their journey, I knew these boys forged a bond to last a very long time.   Ms. Bixby's Last Day will stick with me for a really long time, and I know this will be a book that I will read again and again.   A huge thank you to Aeicha at Word Spelunking  and Walden Pond Press for the autographed ARC of the book.  If you've read Ms. Bixby's Last Day, feel free to leave me your thoughts in the comments.  Otherwise, I hope you'll get the chance, it's not a book that you want to miss.  If you need further convincing, here is an excerpt from the publisher.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Six of my Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of the Year (2016)

Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish  This week's Top Ten Tuesday is Ten of my Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of the Year (2016)

So I picked six books that I really want to read over the next several months, which might be a bit of a challenge cause the majority are publishing in August through October, why does it need to be during Cybils?  I'm just going to have to get creative to sneak these all in.  

290560831.  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling expected publication July 31st 2016

This seemed like an easy choice for me, I've adored all the other books and I always enjoy any new content that Rowling's comes up with on her Pottermore site.  


 2.  The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood and Co. #4) by Jonathan Stroud expected publication September 13th 2016

Stroud is one of my favorite authors and I can't wait to delve back into London, ghost hunting, see what is happening with Lucy and Lockwood and Company.  


3.  Mabel Jones and the Doomsday Book by Will Mabbitt expected publication October 4th 2016

I've become quite fond of Mabel Jones and her madcap adventures.  There is something about Mabbitt's humor and Ross Collins illustrations that I find so entertaining to read.  

4.  Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet expected publication October 4th 2016

This sounds like a fascinating historical fiction, which I'm always on the lookout for me and my kiddo to read.  I'm also interested in the main character who has a stutter and the way the author chooses to describe it.  


5.  Nevernight by Jay Kristoff expected publication August 9th 2016
This one is a YA Fantasy where a "fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family." Yeah and the authors says he threw in some blood magic and living shadows, yep sounds intriguing.  


6.  Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo expected publication September 27th 2016

Six of Crows was one of my favorite book reads with my kiddo last year.  I'm really looking forward to learning more about Wylan's story.  Lovely setting, writing and characters.  

So, what books made it on your most anticipated list?  Feel free to share your link in the comments.  

Monday, June 6, 2016

MG Realistic Ficiton: The BFF Bucket List by Dee Romito

The BFF Bucket List by Dee Romito
Format:  ARC paperback
Pages:  235
Release Date:  May 3rd 2016 by Simon and Schuster/Aladdin
Genre:  MG Realistic Fiction
Source: Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review via a Giveaway hosted at Literary Rambles

Skyler and Ella are two peas in a pod, best friends since forever.  However,  when Skyler starts wanting to watch scary movies and go bowling with a new group of friends when Ella would rather just hang out together, she knows that something is terribly wrong.  It seems like all the things they had in common are just drifting away, but Ella refuses to let that happen, instead she comes up with a Bucket list of activities for her and Skyler to complete together.  At first, Skyler loves the idea, adding talking to their secret crushes to the list, but slowly new friends and accidents seem to get in the way of the doing the list together.  And with both Ella and Skyler keeping a huge secret from each other, things go from bad to worse.  Will the girls be able to make up and complete their BFF list after all? 

This is the summer before Ella and Skyler are set to enter high school, they've each got big plans,  as well as a few secrets that they've been keeping.  The BFF Bucket List really captures that feeling of two friends outgrowing one another,  where at first you enjoyed doing all the same things, but then start to have new interests and hobbies that the other person doesn't have.  For Ella and Skyler, it's a struggle watching their friendship change,  and they each deal with it in very different ways.  Ella comes up with the list of tasks to complete and Skyler tries to broaden their group by bringing along other people or just doing the activities that she wants to try without Ella.  You get a feel for what each of the girls is thinking via the alternating of chapters between the duo.  I found the story easy to relate to and Romito really captures the feel of soon to be high schoolers.  The activities on the bucket list were quite creative and the best friend photo shoot and random acts of kindness were two of my favorites, what fun it would be for two best friends to come up with their own lists together.   As Skyler and Ella would say, "major fun" (with a salute).