Tuesday, March 28, 2017

MG Realistic Fiction/Contempory: Extraordinary by Miriam Spitzer Franklin

Extraordinary by Miriam Spitzer Franklin
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Number of Pages: 268
Publishing:  April 4th, 2017 (paperback)

Why I wanted to read this:  Contemporary middle grade, friendship story.  I received a request for a review and this seems like a heartfelt story.  

Pansy and Anna have been best friends ever since they were little.  Anna is daring and brave, exactly the traits that Pansy wishes she had if she didn't chicken out of everything.  Like when Anna cut her hair for Locks of Love and joined the Girl Scouts so that she could go on the annual camping trip.  Things that they were supposed to do together until Pansy got too scared.  Pansy and Anna then had a huge fight and Anna went off to camp without her where she contracted meningitis and sustained a serious brain injury.   Since then Anna hasn't been the same and Pansy has been trying to be the sort of friend, the extraordinary friend that Anna would want her to be so that after her surgery Anna will be proud of her.  But, being extraordinary all of the time is very difficult and Anna's surgery is quickly approaching.   

I've read many a book on individuals who have sustained a brain injury during my time as a speech therapist.  Usually, the books were written by the person or a family member. Miriam Spitzer Franklin takes on the interesting perspective of am 11-year-old girl who's friend has the injury, a friend that she has just had a huge fight with. The story actually follows Pansy as she navigates her way through the beginning of fifth grade and much of her experiences have that middle-grade feel.  There are the math times table speed drills, learning to roller blade, and logging reading minutes and taking quizzes to be the top of the class.  Promises that Pansy had previously made to Anna, that she vows to now keep.  I enjoyed the addition of Anna's twin brother, Andy.  The three of them were friends and there are glimpses of how Andy is handling Anna's injury, which truthfully I would've loved to seen more of.  Pansy's attempts to be extraordinary are her ways of making up all of the things that she didn't do for her friend before her illness.  I quickly got wrapped up with Pansy and how she wishes that her friend could be the person she was, and how she hopes that the surgery to fix her seizures will return her to the person she once was.  A very compelling story and characters that you can relate to very quickly.   Franklin certainly takes care with the story and despite Pansy's confidence that the surgery will fix her friend, she doesn't give the reader those expectations.  Overall, this was a wonderful heartfelt story of friendship, a girl who wants to be extraordinary for her friend and coming to terms with the changes that occur following an injury such as this.  

Top Ten Authors I'm Dying To Meet

Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish  This week's Top Ten is Ten Authors I'm Dying to Meet.  The Last time I did a list like this was in 2015.  I'm pretty sure it hasn't changed too much. 

1612223731.  JK Rowling   
There is no way an author list wouldn't include JK Rowling for me.  I envision having tea, talking about Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.   

72495222.  Jacqueline West  
The author of one of my favorite series, The Books of Elsewhere and the YA, Dreamers Often Lie.  I'd love to talk to her about the differences between writing her MG versus YA and just chat about writing in general. Plus I want to know more about her upcoming book.  Curious minds want to know :) 

29847480182894823.  Tara Dairman 
 Another MG favorite author.  I want to talk food, writing, about her experiences traveling around the world, she's traveled to like 74 countries.  

15724396281874.  Rick Riordan 
To talk about Mythology, his writing process, what kind of research he does, education, anything really.  


5.  Shelby Bach  
She's alway's been very kind and nice to her fans online.  Ever since her Ever Afters series ended, she hasn't been around much. Understandably of course, but I'm curious what she's been writing lately. 


6.  Brandon Mull  
This one is for my child and to say thank you for the Fablehaven series.  For Dragonwatch and the fun I know we will have reading this together.  

7.  Maggie Stiefvater  
I'm still probably much too shy to meet her, but it would be so cool to watch her draw.  I want to ask all the questions about her Ronan series of books that she is working on.  And also chat about All The Crooked Saints, her "dark" book.  I love the image of the two hands reaching toward each other with an owl in each.  Check it out.   

8.  Jonathan Stroud 
 I want to go on a ghost hunting tour with Jonathan Stroud, talk about making stories creepy and learn more about Bartimaeus.  


9.  Joshua Khan  
This is a new addition to the list, but I loved these two books.  He did an interview recently for Cybils and it was interesting to read about his inspirations for the main character and Lily's magic.  He sounds like someone who would be fascinating to talk with. 

     10.  John David Anderson 
    This is also a new addition, but I would love to talk to him about capturing that MG voice and his writing in general    

I tried really hard to stop at ten, but I can't forget to add Leigh Bardugo, Natalie Lloyd,  Jennifer A. Nielsen,  Jessica Lawson & Shannon Messenger!  

So who would be on your list of authors that you're dying to meet?  Feel free to leave a comment in the link.  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

YA Realistic Fiction, Romance: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Number of Pages: 352
Publishing:  April 11th, 2017 

Why I wanted to read this:  This one is YA and is from the author of Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which I loved. 
Source:  In exchange for an honest review, an  EARC was received from the publisher for free via Edelweiss Above the Treeline

From Goodreads:  "Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back. 

There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him." 

Seventeen-year-old twins Molly and Cassie are really polar opposites.  Cassie is outgoing, fearless and has no problems dating.   Whereas,  Molly is on her twenty-six crush with no kiss in sight.    Molly's crushes are like when "you just finished running a mile, and you have to throw up, and you're starving, but no food seems appealing, and your brain becomes fog, and you also have to pee.  It's this close to intolerable.  But I like it.  More than I like it.  I crave it. Because there's nausea and fog, but there's also this:  an unshakable feeling that something wonderful is about to happen."  Molly is the kind of teenager that feels awkward, self-conscious about their weight, and anxious.  She's struggling with wondering what's wrong with her and what she needs to change in order to be found lovable, or even to be asked out on a date.   She also begins feeling like an outsider in her group of friends when they start talking about waxings and birth control, things she has nothing to contribute on.   Everything for Molly begins to change when her sister meets and begins to date Mina.   But, Molly's life is also changing. She begins to realize that she needs to put herself out there, take risks and to be less cautious. I loved her inner dialogue as she navigates her way around the two boys (Middle Earth Reid and Will) that she's become interested in and how we get to see her feelings/struggles "I'm probably paranoid, but now I can't stop thinking about this.  I get locked in this cycle sometimes.  I develop counterarguments in my head. Actually, gentlemen, I'm intrigued, not enchanted.  And I'm anxious, not sad."  The beginning of the book initially had a lot of moving pieces in introducing all the various characters, but then there was this point where I really began to empathize with Molly and wanting to know how things turn out for her.  The Upside of Unrequited is very diverse, with two moms, talk of sperm donations, Mina, who is pansexual, many POC, and gay/lesbian characters and I loved how Albertalli presents everything in a sort of matter of fact way.  The story covers everything from first jobs, crushes, the wanting of a boyfriend, to first kisses and loves.  But, what touched and saddened me the most was the way the two sisters were beginning to grow apart.  Overall, this was a very heartfelt, amusing, relatable story which I adored.   Heck, there's even talk of eggless cookie dough, grocery store competitions including one for the worst frosting flavor and all in all it was just a fun read.  

Favorite line:  
"Certain nights have this kind of electricity.  Certain nights carry you to a different place from where you started."  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

TTT: Ten of the shortest books I've read

Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish  This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a read in one sitting theme.  I chose ten of the shortest books I've read in one sitting.  Classics are perfect for this very reason, usually they average under 200 pages and  it's fun to re-read a favorite.  I'm also trying to catch up on those classics that I might've missed growing up.  


1.  Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary 1  92 pages    &     2. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White 
184 pages


3.  Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary 186 pages    &    4.  The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner   154 pages


5.  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis 186 pages     &   6.  Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt 139 pages


7. Bink & Gollie Best Friends Forever by Kate Di Camillo and Alison McGhee 96 pages 
 & 8.  Timmy Failure Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis 294 pages


9.  Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman 113 pages   &    10.  Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones  224 pages

Does the length of a book influence whether you'll read it or not?   War and Peace's length (1225 pages) still seems like a challenge to me.  I am curious whether the length affects children's perception of whether they'll read a book or not.  Feel free to leave a comment or link to your TTT.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish  This week's Top Ten is all about the books on my Spring TBR.   This will be a mix of books that I've had holds on, books up for review and books that I've been waiting on for sometime.  I only have six books on my list, but I think it will keep me busy for the next several weeks.   

Dragonwatch (Fablehaven Adventure #1) by Brandon Mull
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Number of Pages:  384
Publishing:  March 14th, 2017

Why I want to read this:  I pre-ordered Dragonwatch as soon as I heard there was going to be a new book.  Fablehaven is my kiddo's favorite series and has been read multiple times, I'm so excited for us to read the same book together again.  

30653902Miss Ellicott's School for the the Magically Minded by Sage Blackwood
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Number of Pages:  368
Publishing:  March 21st, 2017

Why I want to read this: There's a dragon, magical school and it seems that the children are going to save the day.  


Dream Magic (Shadow Magic #2) by Joshua Khan
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publishing:  April 11th, 2017

Why I want to read this:  This is cheating a bit cause I've already read an eARC of Dream Magic, but I plan to read this again for the review and just cause it's so good.  

Extraordinary by Miriam Spitzer Franklin
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
29435168Number of Pages: 268
Publishing:  April 11th, 2017 (paperback)

Why I want to read this:  Contemporary middle grade, friendship story.  I received a request for a review and this seems like a heartfelt story.  

30653853The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Number of Pages: 352
Publishing:  April 11th, 2017 

Why I want to read this:  This one is YA and is from the author of Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which I loved.  As soon as it hit Netgalley, I requested it.  Lucky for me they said yes.    

31371695Posted by John David Anderson
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Number of Pages:  384
Publishing:  May 2nd, 2017

Why I want to read this:   I really enjoy the voice of Anderson's characters, how he tackles tough topics but always interjects just the right amount of humor too.  I'm thinking Posted will be along the lines of Mrs. Bixby's Last Day and I can't wait to read this.  

Looks like the first day of Spring isn't until March 20th, but what's on your Spring TBR?  Feel free to leave a link in the comments.