Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review: The Boy by Lara Santoro

Not for me.

Once a free spirit who refused to be tied down, Anna is a forty-something single mother trying to put her life together after a bitter divorce. She crosses paths with a twenty-year-old neighbor who could not be more wrong for her---and her life suddenly has a new focus. 

She is drawn to his youth, his easy grace, and his freedom from the constraints that rule her existence. Though she resists temptation in every way she can, Anna is soon engaged in a reckless and obsessive affair. The consequences are life changing.
Provocative, headlong, and utterly compelling, THE BOY is the story of a woman on the edge, torn between love and lust, desire and duty. Lara Santoro writes in fierce, unflinching prose about the dark side of passion, motherhood, and a woman's unthinkable rebellion.

I'm not sure I understood what this book was trying to say.  In its short 190 pages, THE BOY felt frenetic and disjointed, while employing biblical references, and also trying to invoke Anna Karenina (one of my favorite books).  It was such a short novel, I'm not sure it all worked. 

Centered around the very unlikable Anna, The Boy is just one of the many awful mistakes Anna makes in her life.  Anna felt as if she had sacrificed her prime years for her now ex-husband and her young daughter, Eva, so is now on a selfish quest to regain some of her freedom and excitement.  Unfortunately, all she manages to do is make a mess of everything, with the help of her enabling compulsive gambler housekeeper and her perpetually stoned friends. 

Even though THE BOY is the title of the book, Anna's affair with her neighbor's college-aged son was just the beginning of Anna's downward spiral.  Fortunately, there were no raunchy, gratuitous sex scenes, which would have added a cheapness to the novel.  This may not have been my favorite book, but it had style. 

I need to talk about her daughter, Eva, for a moment.  I'm not sure exactly how old she was supposed to be in the book.  At one point, I thought she was under 10 years old, but other times she spoke and acted like a teenager.  Having young children of my own, this confused the heck out of me.  I read the uncorrected proof, so maybe this was ironed out in the final round of editing.

The dialogue was irritating - a lot of repetition:

"So he owes you money, no?"
"He does."
"Like I owe you money."
"Like you owe me money."


"We do not count to ten."
"You don't count to ten."
"Absolutely not."
"What do you do?"
"We wait."
"You wait for them?"
"For the children?"
"For the children."

I wouldn't have minded the pacing of the repetitive dialogue had it belonged solely to Anna.  At first, the repeating seemed something only she did, as a part of her persona, but all the characters in the book did it, often forcing me to re-read certain exchanges after losing track of who was saying what.

Yes, she was a horrible mother, and an immoral person, but not connecting to a character does not necessarily mean I can't like a book.  She was awful, and I'm sure Anna has a back story of how and why she became this way, but we don't really get to see the reasons, just the outcome and the carnage she leaves behind.

THE BOY may have been too short for me, a reader who enjoys a long epic historical fiction novel.  It was like watching a movie through a strobe light, capturing important, yet disjointed scenes. Add the odd dialogue to these short, schizophrenic scenes and you have a unique style that may not be for everyone.

I'm sorry, when I don't like a book, I can usually give you a balanced review, of the things I liked and the things I didn't like.  In this case, I believe that I simply may have been the wrong audience for THE BOY.

Book Extras:
Goodreads Page
Author webpage, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr

About the Book:

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (January 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316206237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316206235

About the Author:
Lara Santoro is most recently the author of The Boy, a novel, scheduled to be published by Little, Brown January 15th of 2013.  Her first novel, Mercy, was a finalist for the Foreword Independent Press Award and was optioned by Cowboy Films.   She spent most of her career as a foreign news correspondent, based primarily in Rome and in Nairobi working for Newsweek and The Christian Science Monitor. Her work has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The Boston Globe, The London Telegraph, The Times of London and The Sunday Times. She studied at Smith College, the Sorbonne, and at New York University. She was born in Rome, and currently lives in New Mexico

*A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

ALA Youth Media Awards

The American Library Association announced the Youth Media Awards Honors and Winners yesterday.  These awards represent the best of the best in Children's literature, illustrations, and media.

Congratulations to all the winners!!

John Newbery Medal 
for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature:

The One and Only Ivan,” written by Katherine Applegate, is the 2013 Newbery Medal winner. The book is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.

Three Newbery Honor Books also were named: “Splendors and Glooms” by Laura Amy Schlitz and published by Candlewick Press; “Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon” by Steve Sheinkin and published by Flash Point, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press; and “Three Times Lucky” by Sheila Turnage and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group.

Randolph Caldecott Medal
for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

“This Is Not My Hat,” illustrated and written by Jon Klassen, is the 2013 Caldecott Medal winner. The book is published by Candlewick Press.

Five Caldecott Honor Books also were named: “Creepy Carrots!” illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division; “Extra Yarn,” illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett and published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; “Green,” illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger and published by Neal Porter Books, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press; “One Cool Friend,” illustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group; “Sleep Like a Tiger,” illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue and published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award
recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:

Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America,” written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney is the King Author Book winner. The book is published by Disney/Jump at the Sun Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group.

Two King Author Honor Books were selected: “Each Kindness” by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis and published by Nancy Paulsen Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group; and “No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller” by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie and published by Carolrhoda Lab, an imprint of Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award:

I, Too, Am America,” illustrated by Bryan Collier, is the King Illustrator Book winner. The book is written by Langston Hughes and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

Three King Illustrator Honor Books were selected: “H. O. R. S. E.,” illustrated and written by Christopher Myers, and published by Egmont USA; “Ellen’s Broom,” illustrated by Daniel Minter, written by Kelly Starling Lyons and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group; and “I Have a Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr.” illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Martin Luther King, Jr. and published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Michael L. Printz Award
for excellence in literature written for young adults:

In Darkness,” written by Nick Lake, is the 2013 Printz Award winner. The book is published by Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers.

Four Printz Honor Books also were named: “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division; “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein, published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group; “Dodger” by Terry Pratchett, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers; “The White Bicycle” by Beverley Brenna, published by Red Deer Press.

Schneider Family Book Award
for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience:

Back to Front and Upside Down!” written and illustrated by Claire Alexander and published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., wins the award for children ages 0 to 10.

“A Dog Called Homeless” written by Sarah Lean and published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, is the winner of the middle-school (ages 11-13) award.

The teen (ages 13-18) award winner is “Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am,” written by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

Alex Awards
for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences:

“Caring is Creepy,” by David Zimmerman, published by Soho Press, Inc.

“Girlchild,” by Tupelo Hassman, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

“Juvenile in Justice,” by Richard Ross, published by Richard Ross

“Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,” by Robin Sloan, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

“My Friend Dahmer,” by Derf Backderf, published by Abrams ComicArts, an imprint of Abrams

“One Shot at Forever,” by Chris Ballard, published by Hyperion

“Pure,” by Julianna Baggott, published by Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

“The Round House,” by Louise Erdrich, published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

“Tell the Wolves I’m Home,” by Carol Rifka Brunt, published by Dial Press, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?,” by Maria Semple, published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Andrew Carnegie Medal
for excellence in children's video:

Katja Torneman, producer of “Anna, Emma and the Condors,” is the Carnegie Medal winner.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Award
honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.
The 2013 winner is Katherine Paterson. Paterson was born in China in 1932 to missionary parents and grew up in the American South, moving eighteen times before she was 18. After graduating from King College in Bristol, Tennessee, she herself became a missionary in Japan. She returned to the U.S. to attend the Union Theological Seminary in New York, where she met and married John Paterson, a Presbyterian minister. Her first book, “The Sign of the Chrysanthemum,” was published in 1973. Katherine Paterson currently lives in Barre, Vermont.

Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement:
Demetria Tucker is the 2013 recipient. Tucker has served as youth services coordinator within the Roanoke (Va.) Public Library System and library media specialist at the Forest Park Elementary School, where she was selected 2007 Teacher of the Year. As family and youth services librarian for the Pearl Bailey Library, a branch of the Newport News (Va.) Public Library System, Tucker now coordinates a youth leadership program, a teen urban literature club and many other programs that support the youth of her community.

Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults:

Tamora Pierce is the 2013 Edwards Award winner. Pierce was born in rural Western Pennsylvania in 1954. She knew from a young age she liked stories and writing, and in 1983, she published her first book, Song of the Lioness. She continues to write and even record her own audiobooks. She currently lives with her husband (spouse-creature) and a myriad of animals in Syracuse, New York.

May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award recognizing an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children's literature, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site.

Andrea Davis Pinkney will deliver the 2014 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. Andrea Davis Pinkney is a New York Times best-selling writer of more than 20 books for children and young adults including picture books, novels and nonfiction. During the course of her career, Pinkney has launched many high-profile publishing and entertainment entities, including Hyperion Books for Children/Disney Publishing’s Jump at the Sun imprint, the first African American children’s book imprint at a major publishing company.
Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children's book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States:

My Family for the War” is the 2013 Batchelder Award winner. Originally published in Germany in 2007 as “Liverpool Street,” the book was written by Anne C. Voorhoeve, translated by Tammi Reichel and published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Two Batchelder Honor Books also were selected: “A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return,” written and illustrated by Zeina Abirached, translated by Edward Gauvin and published by Graphic Universe, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.; and “Son of a Gun,” written and translated by Anne de Graaf, and published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Odyssey Award
for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States:

The Fault in Our Stars,” produced by Brilliance Audio, is the 2013 Odyssey Award winner. The book is written by John Green and narrated by Kate Rudd.

Three Odyssey Honor Audiobooks also were selected: “Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian,” produced by Listening Library, written by Eoin Colfer and narrated by Nathaniel Parker; “Ghost Knight,” produced by Listening Library, written by Cornelia Funke and narrated by Elliot Hill; and “Monstrous Beauty,” produced by Macmillian Audio, written by Elizabeth Fama and narrated by Katherine Kellgren.

Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award
honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children's books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:

Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert,” illustrated by David Diaz, is the Belpré Illustrator Award winner. The book was written by Gary D. Schmidt and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

No Belpré Illustrator Honor Books were selected this year.
Pura Belpré (Author) Award:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,” written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, is the Belpré Author Award winner. The book is published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

One Belpré Author Honor Book was named: “The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano” by Sonia Manzano, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award
for most distinguished informational book for children:

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon,” written by Steve Sheinkin, is the Sibert Award winner. The book is published by Flash Point, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press.

Three Sibert Honor Books were named: “Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin,” written and illustrated by Robert Byrd and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group; “Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95,” written by Phillip M. Hoose and published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers; and “Titanic: Voices from the Disaster,” written by Deborah Hopkinson and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Stonewall Book Award -
Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,” written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, is the Stonewall Award winner.

Four Stonewall Honor Books were selected: “Drama,” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier and published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.; “Gone, Gone, Gone,” written by Hannah Moskowitz and published by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division; “October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard,” written by Lesléa Newman and published by Candlewick Press; and “Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie,” written by S. J. Adams and published by Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award
for the most distinguished beginning reader book:

Up, Tall and High!” written and illustrated by Ethan Long is the Seuss Award winner. The book is published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group.

Three Geisel Honor Books were named: “Let’s Go for a Drive!” written and illustrated by Mo Willems, and published by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group; “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons” by Eric Litwin, created and illustrated by James Dean and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers; and “Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover,” written and illustrated by Cece Bell and published by Candlewick Press.

William C. Morris Award
for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens:

Seraphina,” written by Rachel Hartman, is the 2013 Morris Award winner. The book is published by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Four other books were finalists for the award: “Wonder Show,” written by Hannah Barnaby, published by Houghton Mifflin, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers; “Love and Other Perishable Items,” written by Laura Buzo, published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.; “After the Snow,” written by S. D. Crockett, published by Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group; and “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” written by emily m. danforth, published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults:

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon,” written by Steve Sheinkin, is the 2013 Excellence winner. The book is published by Flash Point/Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

Four other books were finalists for the award: “Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different,” written by Karen Blumenthal, published by Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group; “Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95,” written by Phillip Hoose, published by Farrar Straus Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group; “Titanic: Voices from the Disaster,” written by Deborah Hopkinson, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic; and “We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March,” written by Cynthia Levinson, published by Peachtree Publishers.

**There are quite a few books on this list that have not made it to my nightstand yet, but many of them have been sitting on my shelf, so I certainly have some reading to do.  Still, I am a bit sad that one of my favorite children's books of the year was not recognized by the ALA this year.  WONDER by RJ Palacio. So brilliant.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: CRASH (Visions #1) by Lisa McMann (audio)


Jules has a problem. See that billboard for tequila along the side of the road?  Well, instead of seeing a bottle of booze, she sees the scene of a crash. Over and over again, on billboards, on television, even in the side view mirror of her family's meatball truck, she sees the images of a crash that hasn't happened yet.  What Jules is supposed to do about it, she's not sure.

Feuding families, rival restaurants, mean school girls, and forbidden love - CRASH is an entertaining first installment in Lisa McMann's latest series.

I'm a huge fan of Lisa McMann's THE UNWANTEDS (MG series), so I jumped at the chance to review CRASH.  The plot felt slightly predictable, and not as complex as the world McMann created in The Unwanteds, but I was entertained from start to finish.

My favorite part of CRASH?  Strangely enough, it was not the forbidden love, but instead the relationship between Jules and her siblings kept me coming back for more.  I think I've read too many YA books about broody teens who feel alone in the world.  I think we don't give enough credit to the brothers and sisters who live in these quirky families with our heroes and heroines!

A note on the audio:  I enjoy listening to YA on audio, and I was not disappointed.  Even though I listened on 1.5x speed, the audio helped me appreciate the humor and the snark, especially the banter among the DeMarco siblings. Allyson Ryan has a pleasant voice and a great delivery.

The perfect length for a cold February day, if you're looking for a fun read with some suspense, go for it!

*Attention Lisa McMann fans - 2013 is your lucky year!  Lisa is coming out with four books this year! Here are the other three:  The Unwanteds #3: Island of Fire; The Infinity Ring #3: The Trap Door; Bang: Visions #2

Book Extras:
Goodreads Page
Author Blog, Facebook, Twitter, website

About the Book:

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442403918
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442403918

About the Audiobook:
by Lisa McMann (Author), Allyson Ryan (Narrator)

  • Listening Length: 5 hours and 18 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Release Date: January 8, 2013
  • Language: English

About the Author:
Lisa McMann is the New York Times bestselling author of the Wake Trilogy, Cryer’s Cross, Dead to You, the Visions series, and the middle grade dystopian fantasy series The Unwanteds. She lives with her family in the Phoenix area.

*A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

World Book Night 2013

You can be a part of World Book Night 2013!

The deadline for book giver applications is January 25, 2013

For more information:

(Yes, I applied to be a book giver again - come with me!!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review: The Lost Prince by Juilie Kagawa

A successful spin-off!

For those of you who are new to Julie Kagawa's work, you may have heard me gush about her Iron Fey series (The Iron King, The Iron Daughter, The Iron Queen, etc.), which is a great young adult series full of fantasy, faeries, and love triangles.

THE LOST PRINCE is the first book in a spin-off series, CALL OF THE FORGOTTEN.  It follows the story of Ethan Chase, who was kidnapped into the faery world as a young child, until he was rescued by his sister, Megan, in the Iron Fey series.  Ethan is a teenager now, living in the mortal world, with the Sight to see the faeries who are invisible to other mortals.  Ethan is quiet and broody, and a martial arts expert.  After faeries got him into trouble at his last school, Ethan enters a new school, where he hopes to blend in and simply get through the day. Well, school reporter Kenzie won't let him off so easily. She is determined to get to know him better and before she realizes it, she is literally pulled into a whole new world she never knew existed.

I really enjoyed this book. It was fast-paced, full of action, and slowly pulled the reader into Ethan's tale, exposing little bits of him at a time. The entire cast of characters, both new and old, were interesting, funny, and extremely animated.  Julie Kagawa brings us back to familiar places, but builds a vivid new world full of sights, sounds, and smells that we haven't seen before.

 At first, I was afraid that I wouldn't remember enough of the first series to be caught up, but this really is a series of its own.  There were a few appearances by the "old" cast of characters, including Puck and Grimalkin, as well as Megan and Ash. Actually, it was nice to see them, but I was also thrilled that they didn't overshadow the new story line, as this was mainly Ethan's story.

If you have not read the original Iron Fey series, you could get away with starting this new series with THE LOST PRINCE.  You will not be lost in any way, because even though there are winks to the previous series, you don't need them to know what's going on in this one. That being said,  if you like the writing style and pace, you'll want to read the first series. See, it's more a matter of want than need.

One of the things I love about Julie Kagawa's writing is her ability to move a story along, while allowing her characters to change and grow, bringing her readers along for the ride.  Each book in her series has a beginning, a middle and an end, while leaving room for the story to continue and a desire to read more.  I hate those pesky cliffhangers so many YA authors love, having us wait 14 months for the next book. Julie Kagawa doesn't torture us in this way.  I am a fan of all her series, including the Iron Fey and Blood of Eden (2nd book due in April 2013).

I'm thrilled with the first book in THE CALL OF THE FORGOTTEN series and look forward to the next installment, THE TRAITOR SON, expected in September 2013!

Many thanks to Harlequin Teen for sending me a review copy of this book!

Book Extras:
Goodreads page
Author Website, Facebook, Twitter
Iron Fey Website
Blood of Eden Website

About the Book:

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin Teen; Original edition (October 23, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373210574
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373210572

About the Author:
Born in Sacramento, CA, Julie Kagawa moved to Hawaii at the age of nine. There she learned many things; how to bodyboard, that teachers scream when you put centipedes in their desks, and that writing stories in math class is a great way to kill time. Her teachers were glad to see her graduate.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (Audio)

Fun audio!

Prior to the publication of Mindy Kaling's book, I did not know her as anything other than Kelly Kapoor on The Office, one of the funniest shows on TV. Even still, I didn't realize the large role she has played in the show's success. She is the "quadruple threat" in Television: actress, writer, director and producer.  The new show, The Mindy Project, is her new baby.

IS EVERYONE HANGING OUT WITHOUT ME? is Mindy's story so far. She talks about her relatively normal upbringing, her childhood as a chubby kid, the adolescent who was obsessed with all things comedy, the student at Dartmouth, and the wide-eyed talented anti-ingenue.

She has a self-depricating humor similar to that of Tina Fey, but edgier and all her own.  I'm sure being compared to Tina Fey and Amy Pohler is very cool, but she has her own brand of hilariousness, which comes out shining in her book.

Her chapter titles include: "I Am Not An Athlete," "The Exact Level of Fame I Want," and, my personal favorite, "Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities." For almost eight years, Mindy lived with her best girl friends, and their relationships had their own Code of Conduct, including the right and responsibility, "If our phone conversation gets disconnected there's no need to call back. I get it. You get it.  We take forever getting off the phone anyway. This was a blessing." (This happens to me and my sister all the time, and it's understood, no call-back needed!)  But my personal favorite Best Friend Right and Responsibility, "I will hate and re-like people for you. But you can't get mad at me if I can't keep track."  (In my world, this is the equivalent of Friending and Un-Friending someone on Facebook for my best friends. Yes, I have done that, purely out of love. If I have un-friended you on Facebook, chances are high you have wronged my BFF in some way.)

I'm already a huge fan of memoirs and bios narrated by their celebrity authors - Tina Fey, Rob Lowe, Carrie Fisher, you get the idea.  So, when I saw Mindy Kaling's book, I knew it would have to be audio for me, but I didn't know when.  The when became easy. I had just read a string of really good, heavy books, and I was reading a print YA. I was ready for an audio that would offer me something light and funny - Hello, Mindy!

She's the perfect narrator. Her voice is funny and natural, and not at all annoying.  Some actresses have a great voice for dialogue, but alone on an audiobook for 5 hours is not ideal.  My only wish is now I want to hear her sing, and there is no singing on the audiobook. Mindy also has appearances on her audiobook by Michael Schur, a writer/producer/director on The Office, SNL, and Parks and Rec, as well as BJ Novak, another actor/writer/producer on The Office and The Mindy Project.

I feel like I'm friends with Mindy now.  It's a really good thing I'm not in danger of bumping into her on the street, because she would definitely think I was a stalker by my comfort level.

I highly recommend this audiobook. It's quick, it's funny, and it will give you an appreciation for the comedy genius that is Mindy Kaling.

Book Extras:
Mindy Kaling's Website , Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr

About the Audio Book:

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Narrated By: Mindy Kaling, Michael Schur, BJ Novak
  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 4 hours and 37 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Release Date: November 1, 2011

About the Book:
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307886271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307886279

About the Author: (from publisher)
MINDY KALING is an Emmy-nominated writer and actress on NBC's The Office. She is also the creator and star of a new show, FOX's The Mindy Project. You can find her on Twitter (@mindykaling), or at her desk pretending to be writing a screenplay but actually online shopping with a memorized credit card number. She resides in Los Angeles.

It's Monday!

Today is ...Monday, January 21, 2013, What Are You Reading?

This weekly meme is brought to you by Sheila over at Book Journey. Please head on over and say hello! 

Books Completed:

Currently Reading:

Currently Listening To:

Plan To Read This Week:

Happy Reading!

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme, of which hosts change. This month's host is Lori's Reading Corner.  On Sundays I share the Children's books - YA, MG, Early Readers, and Picture Books - that come through my mailbox.  On Mondays, it's all about the adults. Here they are!

THE BLOOD GOSPEL (THE ORDER OF SANGUINES #1) by James Rollins (William Morrow: January 2013; HC 448pgs)

An earthquake in Masada, Israel, kills hundreds and reveals a tomb buried in the heart of the mountain. A trio of investigators—Sergeant Jordan Stone, a military forensic expert; Father Rhun Korza, a Vatican priest; and Dr. Erin Granger, a brilliant but disillusioned archaeologist—are sent to explore the macabre discovery, a subterranean temple holding the crucified body of a mummified girl.

But a brutal attack at the site sets the three on the run, thrusting them into a race to recover what was once preserved in the tomb’s sarcophagus: a book rumored to have been written by Christ’s own hand, a tome that is said to hold the secrets to His divinity. But the enemy who hounds them is like no other, a force of ancient evil directed by a leader of impossible ambitions and incalculable cunning.

From crumbling tombs to splendorous churches, Erin and her two companions must confront a past that traces back thousands of years, to a time when ungodly beasts hunted the dark spaces of the world, to a moment in history when Christ made a miraculous offer, a pact of salvation for those who were damned for eternity

Sunday, January 20, 2013

In My Mailbox

This is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi, The Story Siren. I decided a few months ago that it would make things much easier if I separated my Children's books from my adult books, since Kristi is primarily a YA blogger.  Here are my YA/MG/Early Readers/Picture Books: 

Young Adult:

THE TRAGEDY PAPER by Elizabeth LaBan (Alfred A Knopf; January 2013; HC 320pgs; Ages 12+)      Perfect for fans of Thirteen Reasons Why and Looking for Alaska, Jennifer Weiner, #1 New York Timesbestselling author, calls Elizabeth LaBan’s The Tragedy Paper “a beguiling and beautifully written tale of first love and heartbreak.”   It follows the story of Tim Macbeth, a seventeen-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is “Enter here to be and find a friend.” A friend is the last thing Tim expects or wants—he just hopes to get through his senior year unnoticed. Yet, despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “It” girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim's surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, but she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone ever finds out. Tim and Vanessa begin a clandestine romance, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.
 Jumping between viewpoints of the love-struck Tim and Duncan, a current senior about to uncover the truth of Tim and Vanessa, The Tragedy Paper is a compelling tale of forbidden love and the lengths people will go to keep their secrets.

Middle Grade:

THE TERRIBLE THING THAT HAPPENED TO BARNABY BROCKET by John Boyne; Ill by Oliver Jeffers (Knopf BFYR; January 2013; HC 288 pgs; Ages 8-12)   Barnaby Brocket is an ordinary 8-year-old boy in most ways, but he was born different in one important way: he floats. Unlike everyone else, Barnaby does not obey the law of gravity. His parents, who have a horror of being noticed, want desperately for Barnaby to be normal, but he can't help who he is. And when the unthinkable happens, Barnaby finds himself on a journey that takes him all over the world. From Brazil to New York, Canada to Ireland, and even to space, the floating boy meets all sorts of different people—and discovers who he really is along the way.

FREAKS by Kieran Larwood (Chicken House/Scholastic; March 2013; Ages 10-14)
The Freaks are a band of misfits, trapped in a nightly Victorian sideshow. There’s Wolf-girl, Sheba, with her amazing sense of smell; Sister Moon, who can move at the speed of light; and Monkey Boy, ace climber and human stink bomb. But during the day, the Freaks decide to put their extraordinary talents to use. And in a world of child-snatchers, grave robbers and dastardly doctors, they solve the mysteries no one else cares about \. including why London’s poorest children are being snatched from the banks of the Thames
Early Reader:
Picture Books:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe!

January 19th...Edgar Allan Poe's birthday.

On this day each year, at Poe's grave site in Baltimore, a mysterious figure walks up to the site, pours himself a glass of cognac and has a toast to the legendary writer, only to creep back off into the darkness, identity unknown.

Unfortunately, for the last three years, the figure has been absent, and the literary tradition is in danger of dying off.  I wonder if this year someone will take up the torch.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, 
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, 
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, 
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. 
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door- 
                Only this, and nothing more." 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick


Wonderstruck is a middle grade novel about two different characters living 50 years apart.  In the beginning of the book, their stories are separate. The first character, Rose, is a girl living in silence as a deaf girl in 1927 Hoboken, New Jersey.  Her story is told through Brian Selznick's famous drawings.  The second main character is Ben, a boy who is partially deaf in the beginning of the story, living with his aunt and uncle in Gunflint Lake, Minnesota in 1977.  Ben's story is told through text.  As the book progresses, the two stories and the two main characters, interweave until they come together in the end.

Museums, deaf culture, New York City, and the ties that bind us together are all themes throughout this magnificent book.  Both characters have so much in common, and are simply trying to find their place in the world by learning more about who they are.

I had read Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and was so impressed by the story, the illustrations, and the amazing way my son connected to it.  When he came to me a few weeks ago looking for an historical fiction book for his next school book project, I thought of Wonderstruck.  My 10 year old and I were blown away once again!

If you have a middle grade reader who loves graphic novels like Wimpy Kid or Big Nate, but you'd really like them to get more reading in, try Wonderstruck.  They'll love it.  And if you adults are looking for an amazing story with illustrations that will have you staring in wonder, go for it.

I highly recommend Wonderstruck for children and adults of all ages.

Book Extras:
Wonderstruck Website
Scholastic's Wonderstruck Website

About the Book:

  • Reading level: Ages 8 and up
  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545027896
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545027892

About the Author: (from Scholastic)
Born and raised in New Jersey, Brian Selznick cannot remember a time when he was not drawing and making things. His mural of a dinosaur on his fifth grade classroom wall was a big hit, and he had a one-man show in junior high school.

He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Art and Design with the intention of becoming a set designer for the theater, but a job designing window displays at Eeyore's Children's Bookstore in New York City changed his mind. Working at the store became a crash course in children's literature, and his first book was published while he worked there. 

Soon he left to pursue a full-time career in children's book illustration; he also has designed theater sets and is a professional puppeteer. His first book, The Houdini Box, was inspired by a fascination with the famous magician and his secrets. He has illustrated both novels and picture books for other writers, including the Sibert Honor books, When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan and Walt Whitman: Words for America by Barbara Kerley. His illustrations for Barbara Kerley's The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins won a Caldecott Honor Award in 2002; and in 2008, his groundbreaking and breathtaking The Invention of Hugo Cabret was awarded the Caldecott Medal. His newest novel, Wonderstruck, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and has received four starred reviews to date. 

Brian divides his time between Brooklyn, New York, and San Diego, California

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.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

You will never look at Art the same way again!

The largest art heist in history is still unsolved (true story). In 1990, 13 masterpieces - including works from Rembrandt, Vermeer, Manet, and Degas - were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.   Today the stolen pieces would be worth over $500 million. Two men dressed as police officers bound and gagged the museum's guards before making off with the paintings, not to be heard from again, despite intense investigations into everyone from the mafia to the Vatican.

THE ART FORGER (a work of fiction) opens with Claire Roth, a talented young struggling artist whose scandalous past has landed her on a black list of sorts in the art world.  She can't sell her work, she can't win art competitions, and her only income is from painting reproductions for a web-retailer.

In comes Aiden Markel, a handsome and powerful art broker, who has his own Gallery in Boston.  He makes her an offer she can't refuse, but it would mean her making a deal with the devil.   Can she do what he's asking of her?  What could possibly go wrong?

After the first chapter, I was completely engrossed in this book.  I don't know much about art, but any dancer who has ever donned a pair of Pointe shoes is familiar with Degas' work, so I had enough knowledge not to feel intimidated.  Actually, a reader doesn't need to know anything about art to enjoy the book.  No worries, you'll know more than you ever thought you could after you turn the last page!

I was fascinated by this story, the peeling back of layers of the past, following a trail of clues to the future.  There was such romance to the story, and not just the man/woman romance, but the flashbacks into Isabella Gardner's time as well.  Her friendships with famous artists were legendary, as was her quirky behavior, especially for her time!  B.A. Shapiro conjures up the most delicious letters Bella wrote to her niece!

For someone who has never in my life picked up a paintbrush (fingerpainting was as far as I got) I was riveted by the techniques of painters and forgers.  I don't know much about the author, but in 300 pages she paints us a picture as clear as if I were watching someone painting it in front of me.  I could see preparations and the painting in each stage of production so vividly I have to look back through the book to make sure there weren't actual photographs.  Shapiro's writing is genius in this way.

Easily one of my favorites of 2012, if you haven't read THE ART FORGER yet, you must add it to your short list.  Magnificent!

Book Extras:
Author Website, Twitter, Facebook
Algonquin Book Site

About the Book:

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; 1 edition (October 23, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616201320
  • ISBN-13: 978-161620132

About the Author: (from author's website)
B.A. Shapiro is the author of The Art Forger, a literary thriller about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist that spans three centuries of forgers, art thieves, and obsessive collectors. Writing as Barbara Shapiro, she is also the author of five suspense novels The Safe Room, Blind Spot, See No Evil, Blameless and Shattered Echoes as well as the non-fiction book, The Big Squeeze. She lives in Boston and teaches creative writing at Northeastern University.

Upcoming Author Appearances:

January 23, 2013: New England Mobile Book Fair in Newton, MA.
February 1, 2013: Northshire Books in Manchester, VT.
February 14, 2013: Savannah Book Festival in Savannah, GA.

*Many thanks to Algonquin Books for providing a copy of this book for review. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Well, blow my skirt up!!

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. 
Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic. 
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

I have to be honest.  I did not expect much from this book. The synopsis didn't grab me, nor did any of the early reviews.  I was looking for a "fluff" book, something easy while I was running around prepping for the holidays, and thought I would skim through this one. Was I wrong!

I never expected this book to become one of my favorites of 2012!

I was energetically and enthusiastically surprised by Where'd You Go, Bernadette!   I could use words like funny, quirky, unexpected, hilarious, strange, silly, or hysterical.  Instead, I'm just going to tell you all that I loved it and you should read it!

“My heart started racing, not the bad kind of heart racing, like I'm going to die. But the good kind of heart racing, like, Hello, can I help you with something? If not, please step aside because I'm about to kick the shit out of life.” 

Disclaimer: you need a sense of humor and a very forgiving and suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy this book.

“This is why you must love life: one day you're offering up your social security number to the Russian Mafia; two weeks later you're using the word calve as a verb.” 

This is one book where I would be afraid to listen to the audio - if it's done right, it could be magic; but if it's done wrong, it could be a disaster!  As it is, I had to think hard about whether or not I listened to the audio, because there is such music in Maria Semple's dialogue.  The voice in my head nailed it.  I have to go search out some audio reviews...either that or get working on my audiobook demo. Sorry, tangent. (It's kids are sick...haven't slept in a few days.)

This book made me happy.  Not many books out there can own this badge of honor.  We have paranormal love stories; crazy wives; sons on trial for murder; societies both giving and curing the same plague; imaginary friends; and time travel, and this doesn't even include the dystopian section of my library.  What we don't have is a story about a family who will literally love each other to the ends. of. the earth.  THAT makes me happy.

Happy reading!!

Book Extras:
Maria Semple website, Twitter, Facebook

About the Book:

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (August 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316204277
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316204279
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches

About the Author:
Maria Semple's first novel, This One is Mine, was set in Los Angeles, where she also wrote for television shows including Arrested DevelopmentMad About You, and Ellen. She escaped from Los Angeles and lives with her family in Seattle, where her second novel takes place.
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