Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Books Today!

(Ballantine Books; August 21, 2012; HC 336 pgs)

Suspense and secrets are woven together in this engrossing fiction debut by Kim Fay. The Map of Lost Memories takes readers on a daring expedition to a remote land, where the search for an elusive treasure becomes a journey into the darkest recesses of the mind and heart.

In 1925, the international treasure-hunting scene is a man’s world, and no woman knows this better than Irene Blum, who is passed over for the coveted curator position at Seattle’s renowned Brooke Museum. But she is not ready to accept defeat. Skilled at acquiring priceless, often illicitly trafficked artifacts, Irene is given a rare map believed to lead to a set of copper scrolls that chronicle the lost history of Cambodia’s ancient Khmer civilization. Such a find would not only restore her reputation, it would be the greatest archaeological discovery of the century.

As Irene travels from Seattle to Shanghai to the Cambodian jungles, she will encounter several equally determined companions, including a communist temple robber and a dashing nightclub owner with a complicated past. As she and her fellow adventurers sweep across borders and make startling discoveries, their quest becomes increasingly dangerous. Everyone who comes to this part of the world “has something to hide,” Irene is told—and she learns just how true this is. What she and her accomplices bring to light will do more than change history. It will ultimately solve the mysteries of their own lives.

(St. Martin's Press; August 21, 2012; HC 320 pgs)
*NOTE: I have seen three different covers for this book, so I have included two. Apologies to both the publisher and the author for not knowing which is correct.

Imaginary friend Budo narrates this heartwarming story of love, loyalty, and the power of the imagination—the perfect read for anyone who has ever had a friend . . . real or otherwise
Budo is lucky as imaginary friends go. He's been alive for more than five years, which is positively ancient in the world of imaginary friends. But Budo feels his age, and thinks constantly of the day when eight-year-old Max Delaney will stop believing in him. When that happens, Budo will disappear.

Max is different from other children. Some people say that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, but most just say he’s “on the spectrum.” None of this matters to Budo, who loves Max and is charged with protecting him from the class bully, from awkward situations in the cafeteria, and even in the bathroom stalls. But he can’t protect Max from Mrs. Patterson, the woman who works with Max in the Learning Center and who believes that she alone is qualified to care for this young boy.

When Mrs. Patterson does the unthinkable and kidnaps Max, it is up to Budo and a team of imaginary friends to save him—and Budo must ultimately decide which is more important: Max’s happiness or Budo's very existence.

Narrated by Budo, a character with a unique ability to have a foot in many worlds—imaginary, real, child, and adult— Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend touches on the truths of life, love, and friendship as it races to a heartwarming . . . and heartbreaking conclusion

THE RISE OF NINE by Pittacus Lore
(HarperCollins, August 21, 2012;  Hardcover, 416pg)

 In this third installment in the thrilling, action-packed Lorien Legacies series, the stakes are higher than ever as John, Number Six, and Number Seven desperately try to find the rest of the Lorien Nine before it's too late

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Team Cul De Sac: Cartoonists Draw The Line At Parkinson’s

This book was recently brought to my attention, and I thought it too important to not share it with all of you.

When Team Cul De Sac founder, Richard Thompson, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, his friend and collegue, Chris Sparks, set about the task of putting together a book that would become both a tribute and fundraiser for The Michael J. Fox Foundation.

For those of us who may not follow the world of cartoons and comic strips, Cul de Sac is well-known as one of the best newspaper comics of our time.  Richard Thompson first created Cul de Sac for the Washington Post in 2004, and picked up daily syndication in 2007. 

When Richard Thompson took a hiatus from Cul de Sac to receive treatment for Parkinson's, several guest artists stepped in to take over the comic - Michael Jantze, Corey Pandaloph, Lincoln Pierce (Big Nate), Stacy Curtis, Mo Willems, et al - thus, the formation of "Team Cul de Sac".

Now, with Richard's support, Chris Sparks and an enormous team of cartoonists and artists from around the country have come together to draw his characters in the latest Cul de Sac Book: Cartoonists Draw The Line at Parkinson's.  Some additional artists include: Jim Davis (Garfield), Doug Bratton (Pop Culture Shock Therapy), Patrick McDonnell (MUTTS), Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes), and Dave Kellett (Sheldon).  The list of cartoonists is extensive, see if your favorite is on the list, by clicking the link below.

If you would like to add this wonderful collector's item to your library, or purchase it as a gift, proceeds will benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation.


About the Book:
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449419666
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449419660
  • Monday, August 13, 2012

    Mailbox Monday

    Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme where bloggers come together to share the books they receive for review, buy from bookstores and book fairs, and borrow from the library. Mailbox Monday is on tour and is currently hosted by Jennifer D @ 5 Minutes for Books.

    Since I buy, borrow and recieve books for review across all age groups and genres, I thought it might be a good idea to break up my kids' books (Middle Grade through Young Adult) and my Adult books. This, my friends, is where you will find my adult books. Find my MG and YA books on Sundays at In My Mailbox. 

    THE MALICE OF FORTUNE by Michael Ennis
    (Doubleday; September 11, 2012; HC 416 pgs)
    Against a teeming canvas of Borgia politics, Niccolò Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci come together to unmask an enigmatic serial killer, as we learn the secret history behind one of the most controversial works in the western canon, The Prince...
    When Pope Alexander dispatches a Vatican courtesan, Damiata, to the remote fortress city of Imola to learn the truth behind the murder of Juan, his most beloved illegitimate son, she cannot fail, for the scheming Borgia pope holds her own young son hostage. Once there, Damiata becomes a pawn in the political intrigues of the pope’s surviving son, the charismatic Duke Valentino, whose own life is threatened by the condottieri, a powerful cabal of mercenary warlords. Damiata suspects that the killer she seeks is one of the brutal condottierri, and as the murders multiply, her quest grows more urgent. She enlists the help of an obscure Florentine diplomat, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Valentino’s eccentric military engineer, Leonardo da Vinci, who together must struggle to decipher the killer’s taunting riddles: Leonardo with his groundbreaking “science of observation” and Machiavelli with his new “science of men.” Traveling across an Italy torn apart by war, they will enter a labyrinth of ancient superstition and erotic obsession to discover at its center a new face of evil—and a truth that will shake the foundations of western civilization.

    (Hogarth; August 14, 2012; HC 432 pgs)

    From Giller Prize winner, internationally acclaimed, and bestselling author Vincent Lam comes a superbly crafted, highly suspenseful, and deeply affecting novel set against the turmoil of the Vietnam War.

    Percival Chen is the headmaster of the most respected English school in Saigon. He is also a bon vivant, a compulsive gambler and an incorrigible womanizer. He is well accustomed to bribing a forever-changing list of government officials in order to maintain the elite status of the Chen Academy. He is fiercely proud of his Chinese heritage, and quick to spot the business opportunities rife in a divided country. He devotedly ignores all news of the fighting that swirls around him, choosing instead to read the faces of his opponents at high-stakes mahjong tables. But when his only son gets in trouble with the Vietnamese authorities, Percival faces the limits of his connections and wealth and is forced to send him away. In the loneliness that follows, Percival finds solace in Jacqueline, a beautiful woman of mixed French and Vietnamese heritage, and Laing Jai, a son born to them on the eve of the Tet offensive. Percival's new-found happiness is precarious, and as the complexities of war encroach further and further into his world, he must confront the tragedy of all he has refused to see.

    Blessed with intriguingly flawed characters moving through a richly drawn historical and physical landscape, The Headmaster's Wager is a riveting story of love, betrayal and sacrifice

    Sunday, August 12, 2012

    In My Mailbox

    In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where bloggers come together to share what is showing up in our mailboxes, in our library totes, and in our shopping bags. Since The Story Siren is a YA blogger, I am going to feature YA and MG books on this meme. There is another Meme that I will start doing every so often on Mondays called Mailbox Monday, cool? Excellent!

    Middle Grade (Ages 9-12)

    MAGIC TREE HOUSE #48: A PERFECT TIME FOR PANDAS by Mary Pope Osborne; Illust. by Sal Murdocca (Random House Books for Young Readers; July 24, 2012; HC; 128 pgs; Ages 7-12)
    MAGIC TREE HOUSE FACT TRACKER #26: PANDAS AND OTHER ENDANGERED SPECIES by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce; Illust. by Sal Murdocca (Random House Books for Young Readers; July 24, 2012; PPB 128 pgs; Ages 6-10)
    Jack and Annie are ready for their next adventure in the New York Times bestselling middle-grade series—the Magic Tree House!

    Time-traveling brother-and-sister team Jack and Annie have to find a certain kind of food—the fourth thing needed to save Merlin’s beloved penguin, Penny. The magic tree house whisks them off to a village in the mountains of southeast China, close to a world-famous panda reserve. Will it be their easiest adventure yet? Not a chance! Jack and Annie don't know it, but they’ve arrived on the day of a historic earthquake!

    How will Jack and Annie survive when the giant quake strikes? Will they be able to rescue the pandas? And how will they ever get back to the tree house so that they can fulfill their quest to save Penny as well?

    SAMMY KEYES AND THE POWER OF JUSTICE JACK by Wendelin Van Draanen (Alfred A. Knopf BFYR; July 10, 2012; HC, 304 pgs; Ages 10+)

    Sammy thought she'd seen all the weirdness her town had to offer—and then she met Justice Jack, Santa Martina's very own superhero. Well, really he's just a guy in spandex and a mask who rides around town on a dirt bike, hoping to find some crime to fight.

    The old folks in town think he's wonderful. So wonderful that they've asked him to track down Sammy's neighbor Mrs. Wedgewood, who seems to have disappeared—along with a lot of other people's cash. Sammy's friends think Justice Jack is funny and cool. Billy Pratt's even auditioning to be his sidekick! But Sammy thinks he's kind of . . . lame. He's more of a showstopper than a crime stopper. And when a real mystery comes along, Sammy finds herself right in the middle of it. . .

    SECRETS FROM THE SLEEPING BAG: A Blogtastic! Novel (#3) by Rose Coooper
    (Delacorte BFYR; July 10, 2012; HC, 208 pgs; Ages 10+)

    Sofia is spending the summer at Camp Krakatow! S'mores, crafts, bug juice, water sports, boys(!) . . . Sofia doesn't want to forget one second of sleepaway camp!

    THE SCORPIONS OF ZAHIR by Christine Brodien-Jones
    (Delacorte BFYR; July 2012; HC, 284pgs; Ages 10+)

    Zagora Pym has always wanted to be a desert explorer. Her father, Charlie Pym, is exactly that, and she's always loved to look over his maps of far away exotic places. One day she'd be trekking through the deserts of Africa and China, discovering hidden treasures from lost tribes. But Zagora would never have guessed that her chance to prove herself would come so soon. Like most adventures, it starts with a mysterious letter. The question is, how will this adventure end?

    Zagora's dreams of desert exploration are about to come ture, but are she and her father and brother being followed? And will they ever make it back to civilization?
    HEART OF STONE  by ML Welsh
    (David Fickling BFYR; July 2012; HC 416 pgs; Ages 8-12)
    Companion to ML Welsh's MISTRESS OF THE STORM.

     After a wonderful summer of sailing, Verity Gallant just wants life to stay the same forever. But as she should know by now, not everything in life turns out as we would like. The land is shifting beneath the ancient harbour town of Wellow, causing mysterious caves to appear in cliff faces, terrifying rock falls, and dangerous landslides. And the earth isn't the only thing crumbling . . . Verity is thrilled that Jeb has returned, but their feelings for each other threaten her friendship with Henry and Martha.

    Verity and her friends are embroiled in a tale of evil, intrigue, and lost love, as a powerful force works its way towards Wellow, hell-bent on putting an end to all happiness. The Heart of Stone is the key, and the race is on to find it

    Thursday, August 9, 2012

    Review: Angry Birds Space by Amy Briggs

    A HUGE hit!

    This book keeps disappearing off my desk!  I had to get a second copy, just so I could look at it for more than ten minutes before one of my kids stole it.  Still, that wasn't enough (I have two boys...they both wanted it!). 

    Remember life before Angry Birds? No, me neither. But those geniuses over at Rovio keep thinking up clever new ways of having these colorful birds to crash into obnoxious pigs. This time, however, the game took a big turn. The rules of gravity have changed, my friends, and the good people at National Geographic, always insisting on educating us without our consent, have broken it down for us in ANGRY BIRDS SPACE: A FURIOUS FLIGHT INTO THE FINAL FRONTIER.  

    Originally published as a companion to the new game, the book ANGRY BIRDS SPACE can solidly stand on its own.  Chock full of information about the planets, asteroids, stars and galaxies, the colorful pages are also teeming with "Astrofacts", factoids about space.  (My little guy loves these cool little blurbs)

    I want to know which came first.  Did someone over at Nat Geo wish for a book on space that was accessible, understandable and entertaining...and was she playing Angry Birds on her iPhone when this idea came to her?  Or did the gamers at Rovio worry that the average gamer wouldn't understand the differences of gravity in space and they were trying to avoid thousands of e-mails to their tech support? Was it the intention to appeal to kids or were the original marketing tools directed toward all ages?

    Either way, when my kids aren't afraid to get their geek on and get excited about books like this, I am a happy mom.  I must admit, even though my husband has forced me to watch hundreds of hours of TLC, Nat Geo, and Animal Planet against my will, I rather enjoyed learning about this crazy universe we live in.

    Entertaining, visually appealing, and educational, ANGRY BIRDS SPACE is a big hit with our family!  BRAVO!!

    Book Extras:
    Angry Birds Space site

    About the Book:
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic (March 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426209924
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426209925

  • About the Author:
    A graduate of Princeton University, Amy Briggs grew up in New Jersey, has great taste in music and plays a wicked game of field hockey. She is currently an editor at National Geographic and lives with her family in Virginia.  Angry Birds Space is her first book.

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    Review: Star Wars Origami by Chris Alexander

    It's a folding frenzy in my house!!

    My boys are usually the first to the mailbox, often asking me if they can open up my book packages.  They have never let out such a scream of delight as they did when STAR WARS ORIGAMI by Chris Alexander arrived.  It sounded something like, "No Way! Awesome! Star Wars! Origami Star Wars!!" 

    My two young Jedis are already pros at folding an Origami Yoda and Origami Vader, thanks to Tom Angleberger's books, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back. In fact there is a foreward by Tom Angelberger in which refers to himself as a Padawan, and Chris Alexander as the Jedi Master of Star Wars Origami. 

    As the Master will probably tell you, in order to make one of the 36 - yes, 36 - Star Wars origami figures in the book, you need to go over some of the basics.  My young Jedis thought they could skip over this training chapter and jump right into folding the Millenium Falcon.  Ten minutes later two very frustrated boys came up to me begging for my help. It takes more than the force to make a good paper light saber!

    A fun book for the whole family, there are different levels of difficulty in the book.  In the Index, there is a list of project separated by level of difficulty - starting with Han Solo, moving to Chewbacca, and eventually working toward a Naboo Starfighter.

    I learned at BEA...I am no folding Jedi, even though Boba Fett is listed under the Youngling (easy) Category.  In fact, I needed special instruction from Master Chris!

    Chris Alexander demonstrating how to fold Boba Fett

    One thing that makes STAR WARS ORIGAMI so special - aside from the obvious Star Wars connection - is the paper.  In the back of the book, there are specially designed paper to use along with each folding project.  There are two sheets of paper to go with each project.  See the Boba Fetts up there?  If they were folded with just white paper they would still be neat, no doubt, but how cool are they with their special paper??  Awesome, right?

    Needless to say, we love this book. 

    Many thanks to Workman for sending us this book!!

    Book Extras:
    Official Website

    About the Book:
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761169431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761169437

  • About the Author: (from Publisher)
    Chris Alexander began doing origami at the age of four. Since then he’s created dozens of original designs, many of them Star Wars themed. He has a large Star Wars fan base and tours the country folding at conventions and museums. He lives in Lancaster, California.

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    Review: City of Women by David R. Gillham

    Full of passion and suspense, easily one of my favorites of the year!

    1943.  Berlin.  All able-bodied men are fighting the allied forces and what is left is a city of women.  It is their duty to the war effort to carry on with their work, their lives, and their ignorance of what is happening around them.

    Hausfrau Sigrid Schröder lives with her mother-in-law while her husband fights on the front. Not quite the "good German woman" like her neighbors are, Sigrid gets caught up in an affair with a man of many secrets, and befriends a young Fraulein despite the warnings of others.

    Nothing is what it seems on the surface, not in Berlin during WWII, not when the government rewards people for spying on their neighbors, not when listening to the BBC is punishable by law, and not when someone will turn on their closest friends just to save themselves.  The choices in 1943 Berlin are between life and death.  Everyone has a secret to hide, it becomes easy to lose oneself in the web of lies and deceit.

    Sigrid is pulled into the underground world of Berlin - black market goods, smuggling Jews, and love affairs.  She is not sure who to believe, and who she herself has become. 

    This time in history is brutal, which usually makes for a highly dramatic story, and David R. Gillham does not disappoint as he takes readers deep into Berlin during the height of World War II.  Full of passion and suspense, CITY OF WOMEN kept me glued to the pages.  The story is intricate, and flips around a bit in its weaving timeline, so I found that I had to pay close attention, but the rewards were abundant.   

    When I first held this book in my hands at BEA, and read the synopsis, my heart beat a little faster.  Then, I had the pleasure of meeting author David Gillham at a Penguin event, and knew just from talking to him that CITY OF WOMEN was going to be something special.

    I admit that I have a special place in my heart for WWII fiction.  Books like Sarah's Key, The Book Thief, and Unbroken lie prominently on my "favorites" shelf.  I am happy to say they have a new neighbor up there.
    I do not have a photo of me with author David R. Gillham, but I do have a photo of me with his editor, and one of my publishing heroes - AMY EINHORN!!! 

    Book Extras:
    Author Website, Facebook, Twitter
    Page at Penguin - reading group guide, excerpt

    About the Book:
  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039915776X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399157769

  • About the Author: (from author website)
    Early in his career, he was trained as a screen writer at University of Southern California, and then moved irrevocably into fiction. After relocating to New York City, he spent over a decade in the book business, and now lives with his family in Western Massachusetts.

    Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme where bloggers come together to share the books they receive for review, buy from bookstores and book fairs, and borrow from the library. Mailbox Monday is on tour and is currently hosted by Jennifer D @ 5 Minutes for Books.

    Since I buy, borrow and recieve books for review across all age groups and genres, I thought it might be a good idea to break up my kids' books (Middle Grade through Young Adult) and my Adult books. This, my friends, is where you will find my adult books. Find my MG and YA books on Sundays at In My Mailbox. 

    AND WHEN SHE WAS GOOD by Laura Lippman
    (William Morrow; August 14, 2012; HC 320 pgs)
    Perennial New York Times and nationally bestselling author and acclaimed multiple–prize winner Laura Lippman delivers a brilliant novel about a woman with a secret life who is forced to make desperate choices to save her son and herself.
       When Hector Lewis told his daughter that she had a nothing face, it was just another bit of tossed-off cruelty from a man who specialized in harsh words and harsher deeds. But twenty years later, Heloise considers it a blessing to be a person who knows how to avoid attention. In the comfortable suburb where she lives, she's just a mom, the youngish widow with a forgettable job who somehow never misses a soccer game or a school play. In the state capitol, she's the redheaded lobbyist with a good cause and a mediocre track record.
    But in discreet hotel rooms throughout the area, she's the woman of your dreams—if you can afford her hourly fee.

    For more than a decade, Heloise has believed she is safe. She has created a rigidly compartmentalized life, maintaining no real friendships, trusting few confidantes. Only now her secret life, a life she was forced to build after the legitimate world turned its back on her, is under siege. Her once oblivious accountant is asking loaded questions. Her longtime protector is hinting at new, mysterious dangers. Her employees can't be trusted. One county over, another so-called suburban madam has been found dead in her car, a suicide. Or is it?

    Nothing is as it seems as Heloise faces a midlife crisis with much higher stakes than most will ever know

    SOME REMARKS by Neal Stephenson
    (William Morrow; August 7, 2012; HC 336 pgs)

    One of the most talented and creative authors working today, Neal Stephenson is renowned for his exceptional novels—works colossal in vision and mind-boggling in complexity. Exploring and blending a diversity of topics, including technology, economics, history, science, pop culture, and philosophy, his books are the products of a keen and adventurous intellect. Not surprisingly, Stephenson is regularly asked to contribute articles, lectures, and essays to numerous outlets, from major newspapers and cutting-edge magazines to college symposia. This remarkable collection brings together previously published short writings, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as a new essay (and an extremely short story) created specifically for this volume

    SUMMERLAND by Elin Hilderbrand
    (Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown; June 2012; HC 400 pgs)

    A warm June evening, a local tradition: the students of Nantucket High have gathered for a bonfire on the beach. But what begins as a graduation night celebration ends in tragedy after a horrible car crash leaves the driver of the car, Penny Alistair, dead, and her twin brother in a coma. The other passengers, Penny's boyfriend Jake and her friend Demeter, are physically unhurt - but the emotional damage is overwhelming, and questions linger about what happened before Penny took the wheel.

    As summer unfolds, startling truths are revealed about the survivors and their parents - secrets kept, promises broken, hearts betrayed. Elin Hilderbrand explores the power of community, family, and honesty, and proves that even from the ashes of sorrow, new love can still take flight

    FILL IN THE BLANK: An Inspirational Sketchbook by Elodie Chaillous and Vahram Muratyan
    (Quirk Books; August 14, 2012; PPB 208 pgs)

    With more than 100 different spreads to envision, design, and draw, Fill in the Blank invites you to create new houses, cars, skyscrapers, cereal boxes, wine labels, roller coasters, topiary, and much, much more! Part doodling book, part sketchbook, and part design-inspiration workbook, Fill in the Blank offers everything you need to jump-start your imagination. Want to design a tattoo? Here’s a body. Want to build a new castle on a cliffside? Here’s the landscape. These exercises are guaranteed to make you think outside the box. Inspirational and fun for all ages, Fill in the Blank makes a wonderful gift for creative thinkers of all colors and stripes

    *Synopses are from the publishers' websites, and are not always reproduced in their entirety.  For more information, visit your local bookstore or website.

    Sunday, August 5, 2012

    In My Mailbox

    In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where bloggers come together to share what is showing up in our mailboxes, in our library totes, and in our shopping bags. Since The Story Siren is a YA blogger, I am going to feature YA and MG books on this meme. There is another Meme that I will start doing every so often on Mondays called Mailbox Monday, cool? Excellent!
    Rocket Writes A Story by Tad Hills
    (Schwartz and Wade; July 24, 2012; picture book; Ages 4+)
    This irresistible sequel to the New York Times bestselling How Rocket Learned to Read,
    Rocket loves books and he wants to make his own, but he can't think of a story. Encouraged by the little yellow bird to look closely at the world around him for inspiration, Rocket sets out on a journey. Along the way he discovers small details that he has never noticed before, a timid baby owl who becomes his friend, and an idea for a story. This book is sure to appeal to kids, parents, teachers, and librarians.
    CHESTER THE BRAVE by Audrey Penn; Illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson
    (Tanglewood Press; August 14, 2012; Hardcover; 32 pgs; Ages 3-8)

    Little Chester Raccoon, the beloved character who has helped so many children with issues in their lives, learns the meaning of bravery and a method for overcoming his fears in this new Audrey Penn title. After sharing the story of a little bird who is afraid to have flying lessons in front of his friends, Mrs. Raccoon tells Chester that being brave doesn’t mean being unafraid; being brave means not letting that fear stop him. Mrs. Raccoon teaches Chester an important strategy: Think-Tell-Do. When he thinks he is afraid, he tells himself he can do it, and then he just does it. Of course, getting a Kissing Hand helps a little too. This simple strategy can be helpful to children in many different situations.

    (Random House Children's; June 2012; Paperback; 80 pgs; Ages 6+)

    In the eigth book of the Calendar Mysteries - an early chapter book mystery series featuring the younger siblings of the A to Z Mysteries detectives - something special is coming to Green Lawn - a traveling circus! But when the performers arrive, they need help. Their show is a mess, and Bradley, Brian, Nate, and Lucy are happy to chip in. They fix up the equipment and find dazzling new acts, but what the show needs most is an acrobat. No one in town is brave enough to go up on the high trapeze, except for one mysterious masked person. If the kids could find out who it is, this might be the best circus ever - but it seems as if this acrobat doesn't want to be found! Parents, teachers, and librarians agree that these highly collectible chapter books are perfect for emerging readers and any kid who loves mysteries!

    BALLPARK MYSTERIES #5: THE ALL-STAR JOKER by David A. Kelly; illustrated by Mark Meyers
    (Random House Children's; June 2012; Paperback; 112 pgs; Ages 6+)

    Next up to the plate—book #5 in our early chapter book mystery series, where each book is set in a different American ballpark!
    The stars are out in Kansas City . . . the baseball stars, that is! Mike and Kate are at the All-Star game, and even get to go on the field during the Home Run Derby to catch pop-ups! That's where they meet Andy, whose dad, Josh Robinson, is an All-Star catcher. But before the Home Derby ends, Josh finds himself in hot water. Someone is playing practical jokes on the other players, and the coach is sure it's him. Andy swears his dad is innocent. Who would want to frame Josh? And why?

    The All-Star Joker includes a fun fact page about Kansas City's stadium.
    Cross Ron Roy's A to Z mystery series with Matt Christopher's sports books and you get the Ballpark Mysteries: fun, puzzling whodunnits aimed at the younger brothers and sisters of John Feinstein's fans.

    CHEESIE MACK IS COOL IN A DUEL by Steve Cotler; Illus by Adam McCauley
    (Random House; June 2012; Hardcover; 240 pgs; Ages 8+)

     Cheesie and Georgie are back, and this time they're off to the greatest summer camp in Maine. As the oldest of the Little Guy campers, they'll get to make the campfires and choose the sports teams. It's sure to be their best summer yet!

    Then disaster strikes. Cheesie and Georgie are put in a cabin with the Big Guy campers, including Cheesie's archenemy, Kevin Welch. Now the youngest—and smallest—of the Big Guys, Cheesie has no choice but to use his brains to fight Kevin's brawn—he challenges the bully to a Cool Duel. The adventure that follows includes a toilet on a wall, a headless skateboarder, a garter snake mustache, and the scariest ghost story ever told. Will Cheesie survive to start middle school?

    With plenty of lists, drawings, and made-up words, Cheesie—with a little help from Steve Cotler—tells the story of the best worst summer ever.

    (Delacorte Press; June 2012; Hardcover; 310 pgs; Ages 10+)

    Meet Katie Sutton. She may just look like your average thirteen-year-old girl but in reality, she's the world's leading expert in Grown Up behavior. And you're in luck because in your hands you hold a one-of-a-kind guide to training your parent and becoming highly skilled at: understanding their insane behavior, predicting their next moves, and operating them to your best advantage. So please keep this book out of the way of your grown up, we don't want them going into "grumpy mode" too soon.

    (Knopf; June 2012; Hardcover; 120 pgs; Ages 10+)

    From the barefoot races of 8th century BC to the underwater obstacle courses in the early 20th century to the high-tension Berlin Games preceding World War II, the Olympics have always been exciting dramas of athletic prowess and human interest. In A Passion for Victory, award-winning author Benson Bobrick tells the details of the captivating story of the Olympic Games, starting with their inception in Ancient Greece. This wonderfully readable narrative is rich with anecdotes and profiles of athletes and weaves in important historical events to create a complete picture of each installment of the Games. This thorough account of an international fixation is gripping, poignant, and occasionally hilarious

    Saturday, August 4, 2012

    Review: Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills

    Yay for Rocket!!

    We adore Rocket in our house.  The 7 year old was a reluctant reader in his pre-school years.  Two years ago, when Tad Hills first published How Rocket Learned To Read, I was encouraging my little guy to read and it was the PERFECT book at the perfect time. 

    Well, Tad Hills has done it again, and Rocket is growing with his audience.  The son who was just learning to read two years ago, has picked up a pencil and is starting to write stories...just like Rocket!

    We had the opportunity to meet the author/illustrator at Clinton Book Shop.  Actually, I was exhausted from a very busy day, but my little guy BEGGED me to go!  (I have such a smile on my face as I'm writing this, by the way.)

    Tad Hills and Alison (I was not photo-ready!)
    Photo from: Clinton Book Shop

    Tad Hills was so kind and generous with all the kids he met, and even showed them photos of the real Rocket, his dog who is the inspiration for the puppy in the book.  My little guy started reading ROCKET WRITES A STORY right there in the store, and didn't take his nose out of the book until after we got home.

    While Rocket learns to read from his patient yellow bird teacher in the first book, Rocket Writes a Story takes the next step - writing.  Rocket has a tree filled with wonderful words that he can read and write.  Now, bird encourages him to put those words together and make his own story.  He does so, and makes a new friend in the process. 

    Rocket remains a favorite of ours, and I highly recommend the Rocket books for any child in your life!

    Book Extras:
    Tad Hills Website, Facebook, Twitter
    Random House book page
    Rocket's Learning Box (Boxed set of Rocket's two books)
    How Rocket Learned to Read iPad App

    About the Book:
  • Reading level: Ages 4 and up
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (July 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375870865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375870866
  • About the Author:
    Tad Hills is the author and illustrator of many books including the New York Times Bestselling Duck and Goose, Duck, Duck, Goose and How Rocket Learned to Read. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, two kids and dog Rocket who has not learned to read...yet.

    Every Saturday, Julie at Booking Mama hosts Kid Konnection, where she features a book or anything related to children's books, middle grade, YA literature. Feel free to visit the post each Saturday, comment, and link up your own Kid Konnection post.

    Friday, August 3, 2012

    Review: Will Grayson, WIll Grayson by John Green and David Levithan


    Will Grayson, Will Grayson is an exquisitely crafted novel told from two very different perspectives, two characters who happen share the same name.  Chapters are written by each of the Will Graysons' points of view, and as the chapters alternate between the two, so does the author.  One Will Grayson is written by John Green, the other Will Grayson written by David Levithan.

    Will Grayson is a clinically depressed teenager, who has a difficult time relating to anyone.  He is gay, but has not come out to his mom or friends yet, probably because he has very little faith in people in general and he doesn't trust them with something so huge.

    The other Will Grayson is a typical teenager with friends, a love for music and a flamboyantly gay, and larger-than-life best friend, Tiny Cooper, who is writing, directing, producing, and starring in his own autobiographical musical. 

    Early on in the book, in a porn store in Chicago of all places, the two Will Graysons meet - and their lives are forever changed. What comes after is pure magic.  These two teenage boys, trying to figure out who they are and how they relate to the world, are brought together and form an instant connection through their shared name.  Even though on the outside they are quite opposite, on the inside, they aren't much different from one another...or anyone else for that matter.  They're like any of us at 16, trying to figure out who they are, learning to trust the world around them and the people in it, and overcoming the fear of telling someone you love them.

    Laughed out loud? Quite a lot, Yes.
    Shed a tear or two? Yes.
    Rooted for the characters? Oh my gosh,Yes. 

    Note on the Audio:  Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant!  MacLoed Andrews and Nick Podehl deserve a standing ovation!!  Each narrator represents one of the Will Graysons in the novel, but both manage to nail Tiny Cooper's character, as well as belt out quite a few songs in the process.  I am sure I would have enjoyed the book, no doubt, but the audiobook was an experience! 

    Perfect for audio, WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON is on my required reading list for all YA-lovers out there!

    Book Extras:
    John Green website, Twitter
    Penguin book page - excerpt, awards, etc.
    About the Book:
  • Reading level: Ages 14 and up
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (April 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525421580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525421580

  • About the Audiobook:
    MacLeod Andrews (Narrator), Nick Podehl (Narrator)
  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 7 hours and 52 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: April 6, 2010
  • Language: English

  • About the Authors: (from Penguin website)
    John Green is an award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author whose many accolades include the Printz Medal, a Printz Honor, and the Edgar Award. He has twice been a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. With his brother, Hank, John is one half of the Vlogbrothers (youtube.com/vlogbrothers), one of the most popular online video projects in the world.

    David Levithan is the author of the ALA Best Books for Young Adults Boy Meets Boy and The Realm of Possibility, and Are We There Yet? He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey

    Thursday, August 2, 2012

    A Passion For Victory: The Story of the Olympics in Ancient and Early Modern Times by Benson Bobrick

    A book of the Olympics that will take readers through two thousand years of the games.

    I don't know about your family, but we are glued to the coverage of the 2012 London Summer Olympics right now, so the timing for this book to arrive could not have been better.  Unfortunately, the kids found it lacking.

    Since the audience for A PASSION FOR VICTORY is children and teens, I was glad to see lots of illustrations, photographs, and broad brushstrokes.  All of the photographs and illustrations were in black and white, which is understandable considering Benson Bobrick documented two thousand year history, but it did not capture the attention of my guys. Could it have been more colorfully designed for this audience? Absolutely.  Could there have been more blurbs and factoids?  Definitely.

     My son went straight for the Appendix to see the Olympic Medal Records 1896-1948 and found it lacking as well.  I think he was expecting more detail on the athletes and sports of the medals won, instead of just the countries.  It prompted a great discussion on how the athletes at the games, even from 776 B.C. to present day are competing on behalf of their country, not just for themselves.  The news anchors still give the same medal tallies at the end of each day - not by individual or by sport, but by country.  Great discussion on individual vs. team followed! 

    I appreciated the history detailed in the book, especially that of the Olympic torch and of the politics that have plagued the game for centuries. I found the research interesting and the overall text well written. 

    My 10 year old, on the other hand, thought it looked like a textbook.  We will leave it lying around to see if he picks it up again.  I think once he reads the text, and finds the wit and drama behind the games, the enjoyment quotient will rise.

    From the barefoot races of 8th century BC to the underwater obstacle courses in the early 20th century to the high-tension Berlin Games preceding World War II, the Olympics have always been exciting dramas of athletic prowess and human interest. In A Passion for Victory, award-winning author Benson Bobrick tells the details of the captivating story of the Olympic Games, starting with their inception in Ancient Greece. This wonderfully readable narrative is rich with anecdotes and profiles of athletes and weaves in important historical events to create a complete picture of each installment of the Games. This thorough account of an international fixation is gripping, poignant, and occasionally hilarious.

    Book Extras:
    Second Opinion:  Review: Becky's Book Reviews

    About the Book:
  • Reading level: Ages 10 and up
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375868690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375868696

  • About the Author: (From Random House)
    BENSON BOBRICK earned his doctorate from Columbia University and is the author of one other nonfiction book for young people, The Battle of Nashville, and several critically acclaimed books for adults. In 2002, he received the Literature Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He and his wife, Hilary, divide their time between New York and Vermont.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    Review: Guys Read: The Sports Pages

    A Home Run!

    The GUYS READ library takes an inevitable and successful turn with their latest collection of short stories, THE SPORTS PAGES.   Once again pulling from the greatest talent in the middle grade arena, such as Gordon Korman, Chris Rylander, Dan Gutman, Mike Lupica, and Anne Ursu, middle grade readers are in for a treat!

    One of the many things we love about the GUYS READ series is the format.  The 9 year old in my house is a huge fan.  He will pick up one of the books, read a short story and put it down for a few days before picking it up again to read another story.  He usually reads the stories in order, but you don't have to.  No pressure and lots of fun!

    The stories in THE SPORTS PAGES are among my favorite so far.  Unlike my son, I skipped around.  I read the first and last stories before making my way into the middle.  This should not shock any of my readers when I tell you they were about baseball and written by two of my favorite MG authors - Dan Gutman and Chris Rylander.  How I Won The World Series by Dan Gutman kicks off the book in the perfect way; and I Will Destroy You, Derek Jeter by Chris Rylander made me smile that even a Red Sox fan has to appreciate the character of Yankee Captain, Derek Jeter.  Awesome!!

    My son's favorite story actually surprised me, since it was not a fictional written by one of his favorite authors, such as Dan Gutman or Gordon Korman, nor was it written about baseball.  Against All Odds, written by LA Kings Captain, Dustin Brown, earned my son's top spot.  After reading it, I can understand why.  My sons are both athletes, but the 9 year old got a taste for being on an All-Star travel team this summer, and the pressures that come along with it.  Dustin talks about his early years in the sport, traveling and fitting in schoolwork and friends.  He also wrote about the support he got from his family, and the payoff of all his hard work.  My son dreams about playing for the Major Leagues, and if you replace the word "hockey" with "baseball" this story is his dream.  I love that Dustin Brown shared his story in The Sports Pages, because sometimes I forget that dreams can become a reality.

    I am a sports fan, and a big believer that kids learn a lot of life-skills on the playing field: guts, determination, teamwork, integrity, respect.  Sure, some of these stories are awesome in their silliness, but some of the others embrace the spirit of sports and hopefully inspires some fire in their readers.

    By far, my favorite of the series!  GUYS READ: THE SPORTS PAGES  is a winner!!

    Book Extras:
    Guys Read Website
    Harper Collins Book Page
    My review: GUYS READ: THRILLER

    About the Book:
  • Reading level: Ages 8 and up
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Walden Pond Press (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061963771
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061963773

  • The authors:
    Dustin Brown
    James Brown
    Joseph Bruchac
    Chris Crutcher
    Tim Green
    Dan Gutman
    Gordon Korman
    Chris Rylander
    Anne Ursu
    Jacqueline Woodson

    with illustrations by Dan Santat
    Editor at BEA signing a copy of GUYS READ for the 9 Year Old!

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