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Monday, May 31, 2010

Review: Before I Fall (Oliver)

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Oliver
Genre: Death, Fiction, High School
Pages: 470
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

I read this book because a student HIGHLY recommended it (see an earlier blog post).  To be honest, it took me awhile to get into it.  I kept picking it up and putting it down and reading other books in between.  Instead of giving up though, I kept reading because her recommendation was so passionate.  I am glad that I stuck with it.  It was worth it!  Definitely time well spent.

Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, and the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may just hold the power to change her destiny.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Review: Epitaph Road (Patneaude)

Title: Epitaph Road
Author: Patneaude
Genre: Dystopian, Fiction, Adventure
Pages: 272
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In the year 2097, the world is transformed. Thirty years earlier, a mysterious plague wiped out almost the entire male population of the world, devastating every world system from governments to sports teams. Women were forced to take over control of the planet--and in doing so they eliminated all of our most pressing issues: poverty, crime, warfare, hunger . . . all gone.

Fourteen-year-old Kellen knows that this new world is not all it's cracked up to be.  As one of the only boys around, he has become a 2nd class citizen, purposefully kept subservient, even by his own mother.  He also lives under the threat of scattered recurrences of the plague, which seem to pop up wherever small pockets of men begin to regroup and grow in numbers.

Kellen overhears something he shouldn't--another outbreak is headed for the rural community where his father and a small group of men live separately from the female-dominated society. Kellen is suspicious about the origins of the plague and realizes that he must save his father, no matter the danger.

This is the beginning of the books that I wish I had read before publishing my Summer Reading list.  I totally would have included this one!  The author lives locally (Woodinville) so the setting of this story is Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula...very familiar locations to readers here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Review: Once (Gleitzman)

Title: Once
Author: Gleitzman
Genre: Fiction, Holocaust, Survival
Pages: 160
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

Felix, a Jewish boy, runs away from the Catholic convent where his parents had him hidden for almost 4 years in order to find them.  He roams the Polish countryside with an orphaned girl until they find their way to the cellar of a print shop in the Warsaw ghetto, where an old dentist has been protecting lost children.

Books about the Holocaust are always popular, at least with junior high students. If you like to read these types of books, you should make sure to add this to your list!  This book reminds me slightly of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, as they are both stories told by a boy who doesn't really have a full understanding about what is going on around them.  A powerful story without being overly graphic or frightening.  I am immediately recommending this to Ms. LaBrie and Ms. Pomerinke!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review: Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto (Luper)

Title: Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto
Author: Luper
Genre: Fiction, Humor
Pages: 288
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I have been looking for another funny "boy" book since last year's favorite, "Swim the Fly."  Seth Baumgartner to the rescue!  I included this as one of my "Top 10 Summer Reading" titles for 9th graders this year.

Seth just had the worst day of his life: His girlfriend dumped him while he was on his lunch break, he saw his father on a date with a woman who is not his mother (while being dumped), and he just lost his fourth job of the year (because he was late getting back from being dumped).  To deal with the craziness that is his life, Seth starts an anonymous podcast called The Love Manifesto, exploring “what love is, why love is, and why we’re stupid enough to keep going back for more.”  If you've ever been in love, if you've ever been dumped, or you just want a funny summer read, Seth is your guy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Review: Nature Girl (Kelley)

Title: Nature Girl
Author: Kelley
Genre: Fiction, Friendship, Adventure
Pages: 239
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Eleven-year-old Megan is stuck in Vermont for the summer with no TV, no Internet, no cell phone, and worst of all, no best friend. So when Megan gets lost on the Appalachian Trail with only her little dog, Arp, for company, she decides to hike all the way to Massachusetts where her best friend, Lucy, is spending her summer.  This is a quick read and a perfect adventure/survival story for 4th-6th grade girls this summer.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Summer Reading Lists!

June is right around the corner, thank God, and that means it is Summer Reading time. I have FINALLY completed my annual Summer Reading list, a process I start each year right before spring break and hope to finish by Memorial Day. Whew...I made it! Actually, I have run out of room on the pages so it is time to call it good but that will be our little secret. Yes, I really have been busy reading, reading, reading this spring. And since it's been so cold and rainy here, I haven't felt too lame hiding in the house with piles of books.

You can find the links to each list on my library website (scroll down to the bottom of the page). The lists are divided by grade level, from Kindergarten through High School. Students of all ages, reading levels, and interests will find something good to read, I promise. Some will find MANY great books to read. The lists are designed for students "graduating" from the grade levels listed, but some students will also find titles of interest on the lists above and below their grade level. (By the way, the call numbers listed next to each title are the King County Library System call numbers). And if you are a grown up looking for something good to read this summer, start with the High School list. Great titles to choose from!

I am posting the lists now so that those of you who take advantage of public libraries (YEAH!) can start putting books on hold. But those of you with avid readers at home may want to hide the list until school is out. And those of you EJH students who would rather read than study for finals, you know who you are, come back to the list in a couple of weeks. No blaming Mrs. Yusko for distracting you!

Stay tuned to the blog throughout the summer. It will be updated daily with "latest and greatest" titles not published in time to be included on the Summer Reading lists. I would LOVE your feedback on books that you've read or books that I should review here! Feel free to comment. We can have our own online book club...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Review: Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots (McDonald)

Title: Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots
Author: McDonald
Genre: Fiction, Environmental Action
Pages: 293
Rating: 3 out of 5 pages

Jenna convinces her parents to let her spend the summer with her godmother in Canada instead of at grandma's condo in Florida.  Rural Canada seems much more appealing to Jenna who is an ardent vegetarian and environmentalist.  Thrilled at the opportunity for a summer communing with nature, and maybe finding a little romance, Jenna is shocked to discover that her beliefs don't play very well in a community of "real" outdoorsmen. 

This is the latest novel by the author of "Sophomore Switch," which is one of last year's recommendations for summer reading.  You should read both books about girls transplanted into unfamiliar surroundings.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Review: Dunderheads (Fleischman)

Title: The Dunderheads
Author: Fleischman
Genre: Humor, Fiction
Pages: 54
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars! (for younger grades)

Okay, if you get stuck babysitting your younger brother/sister, cousin, or neighbor kid down the street this summer, you should bring a copy of this book with you to read. It is hilarious! A horrible teacher calls her class the "Dunderheads" because she hates kids. She steals all their stuff and locks it away at her house. Well, her class is fed up and it's time to get even!

Review: Jump (Carbone)

Title: Jump
Author: Carbone
Genre: Fiction, Runaways, Climbing
Pages: 258
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

This is a lesson is why I always have a book in my car. (Okay, my son would tell you that I have TOO MANY books in my car and not enough room for people to sit). Saturday night, coming back from a baseball tournament in Lacey, we hit massive traffic on I-5. It took us over an hour to go 8 miles. What to do? Read a book, of course! (I wasn't the was okay).

PK has jumped. A wild, crazy jump from a restrictive life in a boarding school into a life of total adventure—rock-climbing out west with a cute guy she barely knows. At first, everything’s amazing. The two are climbing in beautiful national parks like Yosemite, completely free from any responsibilities. Then the cops show up . . . with an arrest warrant.

I always like books told in alternating perspectives, and this one does not disappoint. Each chapter alternates between PK and Critter (the cute guy), and together their stories present a fast-paced adventure. Great for summer reading, expect to see it on my list!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Review: Num8ers (Ward)

Title: Num8ers
Author: Ward
Genre: Fiction, Runaways, Death, Psychic
Pages: 325
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Okay, I finally gave up on the 7 books that I had started and picked up this one. I have been dying (ha, ha) to read this book because the cover is so striking. That red eyeball is pretty cool. Guess what? It's not me and my scattered brain that couldn't get through those other books. I guess they just weren't that good. This one redeemed my faith in authors.

When Jem looks into people's eyes, she can see numbers. The numbers are a date, the date the person is going to die. Jem knew when her mom was going to die and she knows when her friend Spider is going to only a few weeks. When Jem predicts a disaster in London that kills many people (she knew something bad was going to happen because everyone she passed on the street had the same death date), the police think that she is a terrorist. With no real family to speak of, Jem and Spider run. All the time, Jem hopes that she can change Spider's date with death.

A good read, and the last page will get you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Review: If Stones Could Speak (Aronson)

Title: If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the secrets of Stonehenge
Author: Aronson
Genre: Non-fiction, History, Landmarks
Pages: 64
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

Yeah! Another non-fiction title. I have always been fascinated with archaeological landmarks and discovering the secrets of the past. Perhaps it's because I always wanted to be Indiana Jones...maybe in my next life.

This is an excellent look not only at one man's theory of why Stonehenge exists, but a historical look at the science of archaeology. And the photographs are exactly what you would expect from a book published by National Geographic.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I am currently reading...

It has been a couple of days since I updated my reviews. Not that you're interested, but here is why. It is state testing right now and I figured that I would have all the time in the world to read while students were taking their tests. NOT SO! When you have to watch students while they're testing, and get everyone organized, and make sure kids still get a lunch, there really isn't any time to sit and do anything much less read.

So, at various stages this week I have started no less than SEVEN books and have bookmarks in all of them right now to prove it. I'm not sure if it means that none of them are very good or I'm just so scattered this week that nothing is keeping my interest. Whatever the reason, I have probably read the equivalent of 3 books, but have no reviews to report. My goal is to FINISH all of them this weekend. Or to decide they are not worth finishing and give up!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Review: Glimpse (Williams)

Title: Glimpse
Author: Williams
Genre: Fiction, Abuse, Survival
Pages: 496! (don't freak out...there are very few words on each page)
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (for older readers)

Hope keeps having dreams about crying. Her father is dead, her mother clearly has issues, and her sister Liz has been institutionalized because she tried to kill herself. About the only good thing Hope has going for her is her name. Hope doesn't understand what has happened to her family but she is determined to figure out why.

This is a gripping story, and not terribly cheerful. But it packs a punch and will haunt you long after finishing the book. It is definitely for high school readers. Not published until 6/22/10.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: The Lonely Hearts Club (Eulberg)

Title: The Lonely Hearts Club
Author: Eulberg
Genre: Fiction, High School, Friendship
Pages: 268
Review: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Penny Lane Bloom inherited her parents' love of the Beatles. (And it's a good thing really, since she has to go through life with that name). When Penny's heart gets crushed by a pretty awful guy, she swears off dating and decides to form a Lonely Hearts boys allowed. A movement is born and pretty soon many girls at the high school have joined. Go girl power! Of course, Penny has to figure out what to do when the nicest boy she knows starts to show an interest in her.

Any girl that has had her heart broken will enjoy this story. And if you have ever wanted to tell the guy that broke your heart what you really think about him, you will root for Penny when she finally gets the courage to tell the creep off. Genius dialog! Oh, and be prepared to have Beatles' tunes stuck in your head for quite some time...

Review: As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth (Perkins)

Title: As Easy as Falling of the Face of the Earth
Author: Perkins
Genre: Fiction, Adventure
Pages: 368
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

While on the way to summer camp, 16-year-old Ry opens a letter informing him that camp has been canceled because "a statistically improbable number of things have gone wrong." He hops off the train in Montana to figure out what to do, and the train moves on without him (but with all his stuff). He is alone in the middle of nowhere with a dying cell phone. And his wild and crazy journey begins!

One reviewer called this book "a long, immensely enjoyable, curiously comforting ramble through an absurd world." I was trying to find a way to describe this book myself, but I think that I can't do it any better than that.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Review: Simeon's Story (Wright)

Title: Simeon's Story: an eyewitness account of the kidnapping of Emmett Till
Author: Wright
Genre: Non-fiction, Biography, Crimes
Pages: 176
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

I have read many books about the kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old black boy from Chicago whose body was battered beyond recognition and dumped in the Tallahatchie River while visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi, in 1955. Till's crime? He whistled at a white woman. This crime was often an overlooked crime because Till was African American. Though his murderers were never brought to justice, the crime has received much attention in recent years.

This account of the tragedy is told by the boy's cousin, Simeon Wright, who was with Emmett on the fateful day and was sleeping in the same room when white men came to take him away in the middle of the night. Simeon's story is a page-turner and will definitely be highlighted on my list of Summer Reading suggestions.

Review: Lawn Boy Returns (Paulsen)

Title: Lawn Boy Returns
Author: Paulsen
Pages: 112!
Genre: Fiction, Humor
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is the sequel to Paulsen's "Lawn Boy" (published in 2007), and it is just as funny as the first. What do you do when your summer lawn-mowing business ends up making you almost half a million dollars? Buy a prize-fighter of course. Fans of Gary Paulsen will not want to miss this QUICK read.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review: Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising (Henderson)

Title: Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising
Author: Henderson
Genre: Adventure, Fiction, Vampires
Pages: 272
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Yes, Mrs. Yusko read a vampire book. And I actually liked it! I think that means that the book must be good. A descendant of legendary vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, fourteen-year-old Alex is stuck at boarding school near Lake Geneva, Switzerland, when he finds himself drawn into a web of intrigue. It turns out that Lake Geneva is also home to a secret school for vampires. It’s up to Alex and Secret Agent Sangster (cleverly disguised as a teacher) to fulfill his family destiny and stop the vampires' plans.

Drawing from centuries of actual vampire lore and literature, this is a thriller that fans of vampire stories and spy books (Alex Rider, Young Bond, etc.) will definitely enjoy! I think that this might be the first in a series about Alex and his vampire slaying least, I hope!

Review: Boom (Haddon)

Title: Boom!
Author: Haddon
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Pages: 226 (but it is a small book with big font)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In my previous life as librarian/speech team coach, I was always on the lookout for great book passages for the Humorous Interpretation and Dramatic Interpretation categories. Regardless of the overall story/plot, if there was a good "scene" in the book, I was happy. I read this book on Friday night, and the opening few chapters made me laugh so hard...all I could think of was "this would make a great speech team selection!"

Jim and his best friend Charlie bug the teachers' lounge and discover that two of the teachers speak some sort of mysterious language or code. What follows is a hilarious and wild adventure. But my favorite scenes are the first ones, where Jim is describing (in not so nice terms) his older sister's boyfriend. HILARIOUS!

Friday, May 14, 2010

I must read...Beat the Band (Calame)

Do not even bother trying to talk to me this weekend. I will be busy reading this book that arrived on my doorstep on this beautiful sunny afternoon. What could be better?!

Why am I so excited, you ask? This is the sequel to my FAVORITE book of last spring, "Swim the Fly." It will not be out until September but I am already busy reading...and laughing! By the way, I deny any reports that I was dancing around the kitchen like a small child at Christmas...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

When it's okay NOT to read a book...

There are actually several occasions when it is okay not to read a book. For example, while walking in the hallways at school (I see it every day); while holding your lunch tray (I see this one also); walking up or down stairs (don't ask); driving a car (okay, I've been known to read at stoplights); while you're supposed to be watching your kids do an activity/sport (shhh!).

It is also okay NOT to read a book that you do not like. Of course, if it is mandatory for a class assignment, you will have to tough it out if you decide the book is not your cup of tea. We've all been there. Mine horrible book memory is from junior year, "The Scarlet Letter." Don't even get me started on how much I disliked this book.

However, if you had a choice of books to read, or you picked the book up because it looked interesting, and it is not what you expected...stop reading! If you have read 50 pages or 20% of the book and you just don't like it, put it back and get a different one--immediately! Reading is not supposed to be painful, and if you find the right book, it won't be. Just because you checked it out doesn't mean you have to finish it.

Case in point, as I have been reading books to create my summer reading list, there are books that I just do not like. Last night, I came across 3 of them. All received great reviews, all had very interesting looking covers, and all sounded pretty cool after reading the book jacket. I disliked every single one of them and stopped reading them all around page 50. (Okay, so I gave up after page 34 on one of them--close enough).

Oh, and if you ask, I might tell you what they were. But I might not. Some of my most interesting conversations are with people who really love the books I did not like. I wouldn't want to keep you from reading a book you might actually like.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review: A Conspiracy of Kings (Turner)

Title: A Conspiracy of Kings
Author: Turner
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Adventure
Pages: 316
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is actually the 4th book in a series that started with "The Thief." However, it is almost a stand-alone title, meaning you could read it before the others and still understand what was going on! I loved "The Thief" (which was a Newbery Honor book), and each book that followed. It was always one of those series that I knew kids would love, but the covers were HORRIBLE. Now, the publish has gotten smart and re-released the previous titles with great new covers--YEAH!

This is the story of Sophos, the reluctant king of Sounis, and his quest to save his kingdom. Action, political intrigue, danger, revenge, and romance, with a hint of a supernatural force. Loved it...and I don't like fantasy books.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Review: The Heart is not a Size (Kephart)

Title: The Heart is not a Size
Author: Kephart
Pages: 244
Genre: Fiction, Friendship, Volunteerism
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

I loved this book about fifteen-year-old Georgia and her summer "vacation." Georgia learns a great deal about herself and her troubled best friend Riley when they become part of a group of suburban teenagers that go to Anapra, a squatters village in the border town of Juarez, Mexico, to undertake a community construction project. A heart-warming (ha, ha) story!

Review: Is it Night or Day? (Chapman)

Title: Is it Night or Day?
Author: Chapman
Genre: Historical Fiction, Holocaust
Pages: 192
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

To escape persecution at the hands of the Nazis in her home country of Germany, Edith is sent to Chicago to live with relatives she has never met. Based on true events, this story is the story of many Jewish children during World War II that were able to escape because their parents found someone in America, Israel, or South America to take them.

A different perspective on how the Holocaust destroyed lives and altered families forever.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Review: Three Rivers Rising (Richards)

Title: Three Rivers Rising
Author: Richards
Pages: 289
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

I met this author in January at a publisher dinner. This is her first novel and she was quite overwhelmed with the number of people there to meet her and hear about the book. I was excited to read the book after listening to her talk about it, but I am sad to admit that it has taken almost 4 months for it to find its way to the top of my reading pile.
Though this is a novel, it is based on an actual, and tragic, event in American History--the Johnstown Flood in 1889. Told by multiple narrators, this novel explores forbidden romance and the randomness of disaster. Simple but powerful.

Review: Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems about Love (Mora)

Title: Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems about love
Author: Mora
Pages: 165
Genre: Poetry, Love
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

I have been wanting to read this book for awhile now. It sure did not take long to read this collection of 50 love poems. Yes, there are LOVE poems in this collection, but there are also poems about loving a pet, a sport, and music. The author writes in a variety of poetic forms (Tanka, Cinquain, Letter, List, Tercet, Sonnet), especially free verse (unrhyming). The book title is taken from a "Love Haiku" included in the collection. And because the poet is bilingual (Spanish/English), many of the poems include both languages. Definitely time well spent...especially around Valentine's Day!

Summer Reading

Every year since the beginning of time (kidding--but that's what it feels like), I have been putting together a summer reading list for students in grades K-12. It is a process that I start at the end of March and usually "publish" around Memorial Day weekend.

Since I started this blog around the same time, you'll discover that many of the books I have reviewed here will appear on the list. Never fear though, you will find MANY more titles on the list. I am a HUGE fan of non-fiction (science, history, biography), and when I look at the blog tags, most of the books reviewed here have been fiction. Shocking...and unusual for me.

I promise, I've been reading the non-fiction! But I'm keeping it secret so there will be surprises on my summer reading list. By the way, this blog is an excellent place to check all summer long as I review of all the latest books.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Review: The Complete History of Why I Hate Her (Jacobsen)

Title: The Complete History of Why I Hate Her
Author: Jacobsen
Genre: Friendship, Fiction, Identity
Pages: 192
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

So, I brought home a giant box of books from the public library over the weekend (last minute summer reading list hopefuls!) and this was one of them. When my mom saw it on the top of the pile, the only thing she could say was "nice title," and not in a good way. Yes, moms never stop being moms.

Nola has left home for the summer to live on her own, away from her family and her sister's cancer diagnosis. She gets a job as a waitress in a resort but realizes that she doesn't know anyone and is out of practice making friends. She is excited when the outgoing Carly befriends her, but Carly turns out to be much more complicated than the typical summer buddy. Nola slowly realizes that she may have gotten much more than she bargained for with this friend.

Now that I see the cover in this blog post, I realize that the public library barcode is covering up the best part of the cover. The cover design really works for the book!

Review: Me & Death (Scrimger)

Title: Me & Death: An afterlife adventure
Author: Scrimger
Genre: Death, Fiction, Ghosts
Pages: 187
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

So, we're back to dead people books. As main characters go, fourteen-year-old Jim is actually a pretty bad kid. He bullies kids, kicks cats, and steals cars. So why is it that I was actually rooting for him as the book went along?

As Jim is chasing another kid, he runs into the street and is hit by a car. While in a coma, he travels to the afterlife where he is visited by three ghosts who show him his past. Each ghost wants Jim to understand that he has been a pretty crappy human being, but it is possible to change. After his travels with the ghosts, he wakes up in the hospital a new person. Now, if only he'll take the opportunity he has been given to change his ways.

Sound familiar? I'll grant you that this book is definitely a nod to "A Christmas Carol" by Dickens. However, the author creates an interesting backstory into Jim's life and why he might have been such a bad kid. And the ending will surprise you!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Review: The Fizzy Whiz Kid (Williams)

Title: The Fizzy Whiz Kid
Author: Williams
Genre: Fiction, Acting, Friendship, Humor
Pages: 288
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

This was a fun and quick read, about a very ordinary kid with boring parents who is the new kid in a school of Hollywood stars and their children. To escape the embarrassment of the day his dad came to school and talked about his cockroach collection, Mitch decides to go on a commercial casting call. His dream comes true when he is cast in a commercial for Fizzy Whiz Soda, and he is no longer "Roach Boy." An entertaining and funny story, probably most popular with 5th-7th grades.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Review: The Adventures of Jack Lime (Leck)

Title: The Adventures of Jack Lime
Author: Leck
Genre: Mystery, Fiction
Pages: 128 pages!!
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I'm not even sure how to describe this book. Have you seen "The Maltese Falcon" starring Humprey Bogart (or read the book by Dashiell Hammett)? If you haven't, or have never heard the term "film noir," you might not get this quirky mystery.

Or, you might just LOVE it because Jack Lime is such an unlikely detective--a high-schooler who suffers from narcolepsy. This is a fun, fast-paced detective story (containing three crimes Jack is "hired" to solve). A little campy, a little odd, but a quick read and enjoyable. It has received starred reviews. The rating above reflects my thought that the book has a very specific audience.

And I was just glad that there wasn't a murder to solve. I was beginning to think that this blog might have to be titled, "I see dead people."

Review: Alchemy and Meggy Swann (Cushman)

Title: Alchemy and Meggy Swann
Author: Cushman
Pages: 159!
Genre: Historical Fiction, Alchemy, Elizabethan England
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I have always been a fan of Karen Cushman (a local author by the way--she lives on Vashon Island). Amazingly, this is only the 7th novel by the Newbery Award-winning author. She is such a "go-to" author for me, especially in my public library days, it feels like she has written dozens of titles.

Cushman, known for writing excellent historical fiction, does not disappoint with her latest novel starring the strong-willed and feisty Meggy Swann. Set in Elizabethan London, Meggy has been dumped on her father's doorstep because she is a "cripple." Her father is practicing alchemy (transforming metal into gold), and becomes involved in a murder-for-hire plot, which Meggy must save him from. Meggy is a refreshing heroine: a brash, insult-hurling girl who empties her own chamber pot and doesn't let her disability stop her.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

New Book Alert...The Red Pyramid (Riordan)

Are you a fan of "The Lightning Thief" series? The author, Rick Riordan, has a new book out... "The Red Pyramid." This is the first book in the new Kane Chronicles series and arrived in my mailbox on Monday. According to the book jacket:
Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane. One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.
Sound good? It's available for checkout now!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Suzanne Collins is listed in the 2010 TIME 100!

Redmond Regional Library Book Club

The Redmond Regional Library's next Teen Book Club is Friday, June 4th @ 4pm. They will be discussing "The Maze Runner" by James Dashner. See my review of the book posted here on 4/24. Should be an interesting discussion! One EJH student, who is currently reading it, came into the library to give it a very enthusiastic review so far!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Review: Last Summer of the Death Warriors (Stork)

Title: The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
Author: Stork
Genre: Friendship, Cancer/Dying, Fiction
Pages: 344
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

Shhh, don't tell anyone but I did not read "Marcelo in the Real World," the author's last book. I know, I know, it got GREAT reviews and won numerous awards. I promise it's on the top of my list now!

This book, published in March and nominated for this year's BFYA, is nothing short of amazing. 17-year-old Pancho has arrived at St. Anthony's Home an orphan on a mission to avenge his sister's death. But he gets side-tracked by D.Q., a fellow orphan with terminal brain cancer. D.Q. is writing a "Death Warrior's Manifesto," which helps him live out his last days fully. Pancho eventually faces a decision: follow the path to revenge, or embrace the way of the Death Warrior and choose life. Thought-provoking and powerful.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Review: Light Beneath Ferns (Spollen)

Title: Light Beneath Ferns
Author: Spollen
Genre: Ghost Stories
Pages: 204
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I'm stealing this description from the book jacket:
Elizah Rayne is nothing like other fourteen-year-old girls. More interested in bird bones than people, she wraps herself in silence. Trying to escape the shadow of her gambler father, Elizah and her mother move into an old house that borders a cemetery. All her mother wants is for them to have "normal" lives. But that becomes impossible for Elizah when she finds a human jawbone by the river and meets Nathaniel, a strangely hypnotic and mysterious boy who draws Elizah into his world.

Looking for a ghost story? This would make a great book to take camping this summer. Just freaky enough, but won't make you afraid to fall asleep!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Review: The Unwritten Rule (Scott)

Title: The Unwritten Rule
Author: Scott
Genre: Fiction, Friendship, Love
Pages: 224
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The Unwritten Rule is that you never fall in love with your best friend's boyfriend. Unfortunately, that is just what Sarah has done and she knows that makes her a bad friend. But is it okay if Brianna never finds out?

I am a fan of this author. This book is nominated for BFYA 2011 (though not her best in my opinion). And I still haven't figured out why the publisher chose the cover they did...hmmm...

Review: Premiere: On the Runway (Carlson)

Title: Premiere: On the Runway
Author: Carlson
Genre: Fiction, Fashion, Sisters
Pages: 204
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Paige and Erin Forrester have been given the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to host their own fashion reality show on television. Unfortunately, Erin would rather be behind the camera than appearing on it. Luckily, her beautiful sister Paige is a natural at fashion and at hosting. Erin will get to work on the crew and act as chaperone/moral compass to her older sister. A guest spot on a catty teen reality series provides a chance for the sisters to debut their show, but does not go as planned and leaves the possibility of the show in jeopardy.
If you are a fan of fashion or reality television, this will be one you won't want to miss. Not published until June, Mrs. Yusko has an advance copy of this title which is clearly the first in a new series. Will be great summer reading!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I get to...have dinner with this author!

The galley for this book, Museum of Thieves, arrived on my doorstep last night. It is such an advance copy (the book won't be published until September), that it is not even in book format yet. Rather, it is spiral bound pages with a pretend cover. But I am excited to read it this weekend as I have been invited to have dinner with the author on Monday night! My review of the book will appear shortly...
This is my second author dinner this year. I met Lauren Kate, author of "Fallen," in December when she was on tour promoting the book. There were only 20 people there, so we all got time to speak with Ms. Kate. It was great to talk with her about her writing and her work with high school students. If you are a fan of those vampire love stories, you should read "Fallen."

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