Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer Giveaway Hop: Two middle grade ARC sequels

Do you love ARCs? Do you love middle grade novels? Do you love sequels? Well, this is the giveaway for you!

For this blog hop I am giving away two ARCs of middle grade novels that just so happen to both be sequels:
When Did You See Her Last? by Lemony Snicket
Series: All the Wrong Questions #2
Expected Publication: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 279
Genre: Mystery
Disclosure: Copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary:
I should have asked the question "How could someone who was missing be in two places at once?" Instead, I asked the wrong question -- four wrong questions, more or less. This is the account of the second.
In the fading town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea, young apprentice Lemony Snicket has a new case to solve when he and his chaperone are hired to find a missing girl. Is the girl a runaway? Or was she kidnapped? Was she seen last at the grocery store? Or could she have stopped at the diner? Is it really any of your business? These are All The Wrong Questions

The Lonely Lake Monster by Suzanne Selfors
Series: The Imaginary Veterinary #2
Expected Publication: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 199
Genre: Fantasy
Disclosure: Copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary:
Pearl doesn't mean to be a troublemaker. Trouble just seems to find her.
Pearl Petal and Ben Silverstein can't wait for their first official day as apprentices of Dr. Woo, veterinarian for imaginary creatures. That is, until they are tasked with clipping the sasquatch's toenails. Gross!

Then Pearl spots a monster in the lake behind the hospital. Even though they were told not to leave the building for any reason, Pearl sets off for a closer look, with Ben trailing cautiously behind.
The outing goes awry when Ben is captured by the creature and held hostage on an island in the middle of the lake. It's up to Pearl to hatch a rescue mission. Will she save the day or cement her reputation as the town troublemaker? And will the hospital's secret patient be able to help?
Suzanne Selfors takes readers on an incredible adventure full of mythical creatures and astonishing discoveries that are anything but imaginary.

Terms and Conditions:
You must be 13 or older to enter and have a U.S. mailing address
One winner will be chosen to receive both copies
Use the Rafflecopter widget to enter 

Monday, July 29, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? 7-29-13

Originally hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers also host a kidlit version of It's Monday! What are You Reading?

Last week I finished reading:
Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan, illustrated by Maria Kalman
The Year of Shadows by Claire LeGrand

Picture books I read last week:

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball by John Coy, illustrated by Joe Morse
I didn't love the writing or illustrations in this book, but I loved the IDEA of this book, in that, it will be a high-interest nonfiction topic for a lot of students

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by vladimir Radunsky
I absolutely loved the whimsical nature yet neutral tones of the pictures in this book. I'm going to be so bold as to say this could be a Caldecott contender. 

Chick 'n' Pug Meet the Dude by Jennifer Sattler
Uptight Chick and laid back Pug in another adventure: this time to apprehend a squeaky toy thief. Anyone who knows me knows I can't resist a book with a pug on the cover. 

I am Blop! by Herve Tullet
I didn't quite "get" this book, but at the same time, it felt like it was trying to get across the idea that art begins simply and can become more complex through simple shapes. I'm curious to see and hear how kids respond to this book because as an adult I was a bit puzzled.

Currently reading:

Timepiece by Myra McEntire

Currently (still) listening:

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Doll Bones by Holly Black

Last week I reviewed:

Tea Rex by Molly Idle
Chick-O-Saurus Rex by Lenore and Daniel Jennewein

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier by Ree Drummond

Current giveaway:

2 copies of Little Bee by Chris Cleave (ends 8/4)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tea Rex by Molly Idle

Dear Mr. Rex,

It has been so long since I have seen you.

Do drop by on Friday afternoon for a cup of tea.

Your friend,

When children play "tea party" it is very often one of the few times you observe them behaving quietly and minding their manners. Which is why Molly Idle's Tea Rex is such a fun, hilarious read. The children in the story are minding their manners and following all the proper proceedings of a dignified tea, but their guest, Mr. T-Rex, can't help himself. He's trying to very hard to be mannerly, but he just can't help what he is: a carnivorous beast.

And yet, despite being a carnivorous beast, there is something so endearing and almost gentle about Mr. Rex. It isn't presumptuous to say that readers of all ages will fall in love with him. The second person point-of-view and "fish out of water" main character immediately put me in mind of my favorite picture book of all time, Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by Audrey Vernick. I could see using this book as a mentor text to have students write their own "fish out of water" stories.

Books similar to Tea Rex:
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Daniel Jennewein
Teach Your Buffalo to Play Drums by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Daniel Jennewein
Dragons Love Tacos by  Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Boy and Bot by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
Ribbit! by Rodrigo Folgueira, illustrated by Poly Bernatene

Tea Rex by Molly Idle
Published: April 9, 2013
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Pages: 40
Genre: Picture Book/Fantasy
Audience: Primary
Disclosure: Purchased Copy

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier by Ree Drummond

There is something so comforting and endearing about watching Ree Drummond and her family who "live on a ranch in the middle of nowhere" as she reminds her viewers each week on her wildly popular Food Network show, Pioneer Woman, which is named after her wildly popular blog of the same name. And yet, despite the fact that she lives in the middle of nowhere, I am fascinated by her life. She manages to find lots to do with her time, what with keeping up with the extracurricular schedules of four kids, not to mention homeschooling them, along with the busy workings of a cattle ranch. It's a life I wouldn't wish for myself, but I certainly find it interesting to watch. And I think that's why it's so interesting to watch: it is a life that she didn't wish for herself. Ree didn't plan for a life on a cattle ranch in the middle of nowhere. She was an L.A. girl. She was a vegetarian. She wore designer clothes. But then she met the love of her life who happened to own a cattle ranch in Oklahoma and everything changed. But everyone who is familiar with Drummond knows her back story, so I won't get too involved in her biographical details, but  if you want to know more, you can read all about that in her memoir, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels (and you should because Ree is an amazing writer).

The recipes in this volume are typical fare for what you would expect from Drummond: simple, easy comfort food. There isn't anything special or unique about what she makes, but what does set this cookbook apart are the places where Drummond injects photographs of her family and of life on the ranch. Again, she manages to make a subject I never found much interest in -- living on a ranch -- fascinating and endearing. So while I won't be clamoring to make many of the recipes in this book (though her sloppy joes were quite tasty and I must say, I will be using that recipe again), I will be clamoring for more stories and pictures because she makes me want to be adopted into her family  -- well, maybe as a cousin or something so I don't have to live on the ranch. I'd just want to come visit from time to time :)

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier by Ree Drummond
Published: March 13, 2012
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 304
Genre: Cookery
Audience: Adults
Disclosure: Library Copy

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop

For my portion of the giveaway hop, I have two copies of:

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Published: February 16, 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 266
Audience: Adults

Goodreads summary:
This is the story of two women. Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice, the kind of choice we hope you never have to face. Two years later, they meet again - the story starts there ...

Terms and Conditions:
Must be 13 or older to enter and have a U.S. mailing address
2 copies up for grabs
Use the Rafflecopter widget to enter 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Happy Book Birthday Chick-O-Saurus Rex!

Lenore Applehans, who wrote the YA afterlife thriller Level 2 (soon to be renamed The Memory of After), teamed up with her husband Daniel Jennewein, illustrator of Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? and Teach Your Buffalo to Play Drums, for this adorable picture book about courage, standing up to bullies, and being proud of your own heritage.

Little Chick wants to join the "cool kids" in the tree house, but in order to be allowed entry, he must first prove he is strong and brave. The tree house bullies scoff at his cock-a-doodle-doo and declare that no chickens are allowed.

Dejected, Little Chick asks his dad what their family has done that is strong and brave and they soon stumble upon a discovery that just might allow him access into the tree house.

A fun, cute picture book with a good message and a little science hidden in there for good measure. :)

Check out this wonderful interview with Daniel and Lenore on author Audrey Vernick's blog and then go out and get your copy of Chick-O-Saurus Rex today. Or if you'll be in or around the following two locations in August, stop by and meet Lenore and Daniel for your own personalized copy.

Saturday, August 3rd: Alexandria Virginia
Hooray for Books, 3:30 PM

Saturday, August 10th: Delaware, OH
Fundamentals Bookstore, 10 AM

Chick-O-Saurus Rex by Lenore and Daniel Jennewein  
Published: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Audience: Primary
Disclosure: Book received from author and illustrator 

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? 7-22-13

Originally hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers also host a kidlit version of It's Monday! What are You Reading?

Last week I read:

Mister and Lady Day: Billie Holiday and the Dog Who Loved Her by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newman
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
I really enjoyed both of these picture book biographies. The text and illustrations paired perfectly with each other.

Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems
What can I say? Can you ever go wrong with a Mo Willems book? I absolutely love the concept of both this book and the first book, having the illustrated pictures paired with a real photographic background.

Guinea Dog 2 by Patrick Jennings
Not as good as the first one, but still pretty good.

Last week I finished listening to:

Until I Die by Amy Plum
I really enjoyed Die for Me, the first book in the Revenants series but this book just didn't do it for me initially. The vivid Parisian setting came alive in the first book and was my main reason for loving the story. I didn't feel the setting and characters the same way I did in the first book and ended up abandoning upon first reading. Then I had the opportunity to listen to the audio and Julia Whelan must just have a way of bringing stories to life because I enjoyed this book much better as an audiobook than a regular book. I will be sure to listen to the third book on audio as well. 

Last week I reviewed:

Forgotten by Cat Patrick 

I'm currently reading:

The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand

I'm  currently listening to:

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Doll Bones by Holly Black

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Audiobook review: Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Every morning, at 4:33 a.m., London Lane's memory is wiped clean and she must start each day anew. In order for her life to be somewhat normal, she uses a notebook to be her memory, storing the people, places, and events of her day inside, so when she wakes up in the morning she can "remember." But what is also extraordinary about London is that she not only can't remember her past, she can see the future.

Forgotten was a worthwhile audiobook to listen to. Julia Whelan was a great narrator for London and the story gets progressively more engrossing as you read/listen. It begins rather slowly, building up London's background and stretching out the exposition, which could be a recipe for abandoning a book if the characters and situations aren't compelling enough, but luckily I was so intrigued by London's story that the lengthy exposition didn't bother me.

As I continued to listen, I had a feeling the plot was going to turn into a mystery, which it did, and a fascinating one at that. I just wish Cat Patrick had spent more time on the actual mystery itself and less time building up to it because once the ending came, it was a bit of a letdown. For me it felt rushed and needed more closure.

Another intriguing part of the story involves London's boyfriend, Luke. When we first meet Luke, he seems too good to be true, so much so that I immediately and incorrectly suspected that his nice guy persona was just an act. Turns out he was just a nice guy with zero agenda. How refreshing! And definitely a highlight for me as I like when my predictions are incorrect - it means the author didn't go for the cliched approach.Which is also another reason I didn't mind too much that the mystery of the story came later. It seemed like Patrick was going for a plot movement that was a little bit against the grain and I kind of liked that.

So despite my wish for the mystery of the plot to be more in the forefront of the story (out of 6 CDs, the mystery didn't really begin to reveal itself until disc 5), I enjoyed this story a great deal and look forward to reading more books from Cat Patrick in the future, especially since my friend Jillian from Heise Reads and Recommends informed me that Patrick always writes nice guys into her books. Well that's reason enough for me to keep reading!

Forgotten by Cat Patrick
Audiobook Narrator: Julia Whelan
Published: June 7, 2011
Publisher: Listening Library
Audiobook Length: 6 hours, 22 minutes
Pages: 304
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Mystery (Magical realism too? This genre is kind of hard to pin down)
Audience: Young Adult
Disclosure: Library Copy

Monday, July 15, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? 7-15-13

Originally hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers also host a kidlit version of It's Monday! What are You Reading?

Last week was another busy travel week for me. My husband and I went to New York City with some of our friends from Germany. Our friends are currently in Niagara Falls and then they'll be coming to visit us in Michigan and then we'll be going to Chicago with them too, so we are always on the go this summer it seems.

Picture books I read and enjoyed last week:

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto, illustrated by Ed Martinez
When Maria thinks she dropped her mother's diamond ring in the masa while making tamales, there's only one thing for her and her cousins to do: eat them. This would be a fun read-aloud.

Bugs in My Hair! by David Shannon I'm not gonna lie. I expected this book to be a train wreck. I should have known better coming from David Shannon, but you know, a book about head lice? How is that supposed to be entertaining? But somehow, Shannon makes this book both entertaining and informative. A good book to give to parents and kids who are self-conscious about head lice.

Red Hat by Lita Judge
When a few woodland creatures spot a red hat hanging up to dry, they can't resist taking it down and playing with it... only their good-natured mischief gets them into a pickle.

I ADORED this nearly wordless picture book. I especially love the bear's "Doot-do-doo" as he attempts to pretend like the didn't do anything wrong, along with the "tink-a-tink tink" of the knitting needles. A great book to gift to a child or a mommy-to-be. 

Ribbit! by Rodrigo Folgiera, illustrated by Poly Bernatene
Adorable picture book about a pig that shows up in the frogs' pond and their confusion over his intentions.

 Last week I finished the ARC of:

Reality Boy by A.S. King
Wow. Just wow. Quite a commentary on reality TV and the consequences it has on families. A.S. King is a genius for coming up with this idea. Longer review to come.

I just finished this book on the plane back from NYC today:
Hourglass by Myra McEntire
A definite page-turner. Not a literary masterpiece or anything, but a fun, enjoyable read.

Currently reading:

Guinea Dog 2 by Patrick Jennings
I loved the first Guinea Dog so I'm enjoying this second installment.

Currently listening:

Forgotten by Cat Patrick
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Last week I reviewed:

Hold Fast by Blue Balliett