Saturday, April 25, 2015

Weekly Update (4/25/15): What I'm Reading + New Books!

I'm hopelessly hooked on Hart of Dixie.  I wouldn't give up my Netflix subscription now for anything.  It's such a cute show and I love how ridiculous all the characters are.  Zoe's antics are hilarious and Lemon's plots make me smile. 

I'm almost finished with season 3, which is the last one on Netflix.  I plan on watching the entire Gilmore Girls collection next.  I missed out on that show as a teenager, so I've got to catch up on it now.

Here's what I've been reading.

New Books! (Stacking the Shelves):
I bought Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon and I'll be sharing my thoughts on it soon.  I borrowed A Moveable Feast from the library, but I haven't started on it yet.

A big thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me YOLO Juliet!  I started reading it already and it's a lot of fun! 

What I read last week:
The Old Man and the Sea was thought provoking and interesting.  I'll be sharing my review of it soon.  Steal Like an Artist took about 30 minutes to read, but had some great advice. 

DNF (for now):
I don't know if my tastes are changing or if my abandonment of books can be blamed on my pregnancy brain, but by all accounts, I should have liked this book as much as the first.  I was so excited to read it too...

I marked it as DNF for now, but I may return to it in the future when my brain decides to come back from vacation (if it ever does) because I like this series and I don't want to abandon it.

What I'm currently reading:
Illusionarium is breathtaking!  It was worth the wait.  YOLO Juliet is so fun and I'm enjoying it a ton.

What I'm reading next:
I'm really looking forward to reading The Island of Dr. Libris and Finding the Worm.  I don't know anything about the Kathy Reich series, so I'm a little skeptical of Terminal, but I'm always willing to give a book a chance.  

What are you reading?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Stolen Magic by Gail Carson Levine

The Newbery Honor author of Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine, weaves a thrilling tale of mystery in this companion to A Tale of Two Castles.

Elodie, the dragon detective Meenore, and the kindly ogre Count Jonty Um are all on their way to Elodie's home island of Lahnt. Elodie has barely set foot on land before she learns that the Replica, a statue that keeps her island's deadly volcano from erupting, has been stolen! If the Replica isn't found in three days, a mountain will be destroyed. And when Elodie ends up alone with a cast of characters each of whom may be guilty, she has to use her wits to try to unravel a tangled web of lies.

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carson Levine has written an imaginative, fast-paced mystery that will be enjoyed by fans of A Tale of Two Castles as well as those meeting Elodie, Meenore, and Count Jonty Um for the first time.

About the Book:

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (April 21, 2015)

My Thoughts:

I did not finish reading this book, which was strange because I usually love this author's work. This book was pretty slow and lacked the spark that many of her other books have. I'm chalking this one up to bad timing, because it's Gail Carson Levine! How could I not finish one of her books? I didn't know it was possible.  Please don't let my abandonment of this book be a turnoff for you.  Check out some other reviews before writing it off, because this author really is fantastic.
Content: What I read was clean

Source: Digital galley from Edelweiss.

My rating: DNF (did not finish)

Find the Book:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

YA Review of The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

This series is highly addictive! I enjoyed this second book as much or even more than the first. While some parts of the book are slow, other parts are full of tension. The author balanced the story and paced it well to keep me engrossed the whole way through.

Kestrel is an amazing protagonist. She is wickedly clever and manipulative. She can see through the lies and deceit of other people easily, as well as play the game herself. Arin is smart, but less careful than Kestrel and his lack of care gets him (and others) into trouble.

It was a dramatic and heart wrenching sequel and I can't wait to read the last book!

Content: violence

Source: Library

My Rating: 5 STARS

About the Book:

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Series: The Winner's Trilogy (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (March 3, 2015)



Following your heart can be a crime

A royal wedding is what most girls dream about. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin's freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? For Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She's working as a spy in the court. If caught, she'll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can't help searching for a way to change her ruthless world . . . and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.

This dazzling follow-up to The Winner's Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

Find the Book:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

YA Review of Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine

Prince of Shadows is the story of Romeo and Juliet—or rather, it's the story of Benvolio and Rosaline.  Romeo and his tragic tale take a back seat to Benvolio's own dramatic story.  It's beautifully written, highly engaging, and a breath of fresh air for the young adult fiction section.

While some of the author's modern ideals seeped into the story, most of the book felt authentic, if not entirely believable.  It's very violent, so be forewarned.  If you're not comfortable with lots of fighting, thieving, stabbing, and murder, then this book isn't for you.  There is also domestic violence and plenty of innuendo.  It's not a book to hand to your twelve year old.  I would recommend it for ages 16+ due to its violent nature.

It was an interesting read, and I liked seeing the famous story of Romeo and Juliet through someone else's eyes.  I liked the concept of the curse and Benvolio's secret life as Vienna's greatest thief.  I also liked how he was honorable (sort of) and level headed (most of the time).

It's a good read if you are interested in a new twist on Shakespeare's classic love story and if you are not turned off by large amounts of violence.

Content: Violence, innuendo


Find it:

About the Book:

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: NAL; Reprint edition (February 4, 2014)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC 
In the Houses of Montague and Capulet, there is only one goal: power. The boys are born to fight and die for honor and—if they survive—marry for influence and money, not love. The girls are assets, to be spent wisely. Their wishes are of no import. Their fates are written on the day they are born.

Benvolio Montague, cousin to Romeo, knows all this. He expects to die for his cousin, for his house, but a spark of rebellion still lives inside him. At night, he is the Prince of Shadows, the greatest thief in Verona—and he risks all as he steals from House Capulet. In doing so, he sets eyes on convent-bound Rosaline, and a terrible curse begins that will claim the lives of many in Verona…

…And will rewrite all their fates, forever.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Interview with Carol Weston About Her New Book, Ava and Taco Cat

A Conversation with Carol Weston:
Is this book a continuation of the story we read in Ava and Pip or does it stand on its own?
Like Ava and Pip, the second diary-novel, Ava and Taco Cat is set in Misty Oaks. But if a reader wants to start with Book Two, that's fine. I work hard to subtly re-introduce the characters so that new readers won't be confused, but fans will enjoy easing right into the next round of adventures.

Where did you get your inspiration for Ava's character?
Confession: I was a fifth grader who kept diaries and loved cats and read Aesop fables (rather than Harry Potter-sized books). I was also the baby in the family, and my dad was the family cook. Yes, some autobiography in there! In this book, Ava gets her name in the local paper, and I will say that the first time that happened to me, I was 11 and new in town and I won a swan-naming contest in Armonk, New York. I suggested "Puff and Petticoat" for the male and female swans, and next thing I know, there was a big photo on the front page. It was exciting and embarrassing. Both!

Do you have plans for future books about Ava?
I'm already working on AVA XOX which will come out around Valentine's Day next year. Note the palindromic title! I won't say much except that Ava suddenly notices that her feelings for her friend Chuck are more complicated than she realized. And she also makes a new friend who asks for some weighty advice...

Is there anything about writing for children that you find particularly challenging?
I have two daughters and I've been the Dear Carol advice columnist for Girls' Life Magazine since 1994 and I like visiting schools, so I'm very comfortable with children. I suppose one challenge is that I want my books to be really fun for kids but also to have depth and a sound takeaway message or two. I want my books to be delicious and nutritious, so I just do a zillion revisions until I'm satisfied that young readers will be satisfied.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
No plain vanilla for me. I prefer Rum Raisin or Chocolate Chip or Cherry Garcia or Chunky Monkey or Mocha Walnut or Vanilla Swiss Almond or.... I like ice cream with things in it! I don't think I have just one favorite flavor.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I think we all have so many superpowers and we need to strive to be our best selves and put more of them to good use. But if I'm allowed to be greedy, I will say that I have a terrible sense of direction, so a pair of wings with GPS implants would be pretty cool. Yes. I'd like to fly. As I child, I flew in my dreams.

This is my cat Mike. He is ambivalent about my writing.

Thanks for the interview Carol!

Book Tour:

Preorder AVA AND TACO CAT, which Vanity Fair calls "purrfect,"
or better yet, join Carol Weston on her book tour!

Dates and locations:
4/8 at 6 Corner Bookstore, 93rd & Madison NYC
4/11 at 3 Diane's Books in Greenwich, CT
4/15 at 6 Tattered Cover in Denver LoDo
4/25 at 4 Book Culture, 82nd and Columbus NYC
4/26 at 4 Book Court in Brooklyn NY
5/3 at 2 Thurber House in Columbus OH
5/12 at 10 Politics and Prose in DC

About the Book:

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 8
  • Series: Ava and Pip (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (April 7, 2015)
Ava desperately wants a pet for her eleventh birthday-but gets way more than she bargained for when she adopts T-A-C-O-C-A-T.

When Ava Wren hears about an injured yellow tabby with mismatched ears, she becomes obsessed and wants to rescue him. She even picks out a perfect palindromic name: T-A-C-O-C-A-T. But when Taco joins the family, he doesn't snuggle or purr-all he does is hide. Worse, Ava's best friend starts hanging out with Zara, a new girl in fifth grade. Ava feels alone and writes an acclaimed story, "The Cat Who Wouldn't Purr." What begins as exciting news turns into a disaster. How can Ava make things right? And what about sweet, scared little Taco?

The New York Times called AVA AND PIP "a love letter to language. " With this second diary, Girls' Life advice columnist Carol Weston hits another home run.

Find the Book:

About the Author:

Carol Weston is a writer and speaker. The author of fourteen books, she has been the "Dear Carol" advice columnist at Girls' Life Magazine since 1994. Her new book is Ava and Taco Cat (April, 2015). The New York Times Book Review called Ava and Pip (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, 2014), her last novel about the fifth grader, "a love letter to language." Carol's first book, GIRLTALK: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You (HarperCollins), now in a fourth edition, has been in print since 1985 and was translated into a dozen languages. Her first novel, The Diary of Melanie Martin (Knopf), became a four-book series. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale with a master's from Middlebury, Carol has appeared on Today, The View, 48 Hours, Oprah, and given talks at schools around the country. Newsweek calls her a "Teen Dear Abby." Carol and her husband, playwright Rob Ackerman, live in Manhattan and have two daughters and one cat. Carol has taught writing at Middlebury and at the New York Society Library. Carol speaks excellent French and Spanish and not-half-bad Italian and has had 40 letters published in The New York Times, two of which were about cats.

Also by Carol Weston:




Monday, April 20, 2015

Celebrate Poetry Month with a Giveaway of Changes: A Child's First Poetry Collection

Changes: A Child's First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow

First comes spring with birds building nests...
Summer with its abundance of roses...
Fall with crisp falling leaves...
and winter with bright brushes of snow.

As the seasons change, there is new beauty waiting to be discovered. Charlotte Zolotow's classic poems paired with Tiphanie Beeke's lovely illustrations make for a perfect poetry collection for every child.

Charlotte Zolotow-author, editor, publisher, and educator-had one of the most distinguished careers in the field of children's literature. Born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1915, Changes: A Child's First Collection of Poetry is published on the occasion of Charlotte Zolotow's 100th birthday.

About the Book:

  • Age Range: 3 - 6 years
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (April 21, 2015)

Find the Book:

About the Author:

Charlotte Zolotow (1915-2013) was a distinguished author and editor of children’s books, and one of the most important contributors to children’s literature. During the course of her career she wrote more than 70 books, many of which are picture-book classics, including the Caldecott Honor medalist Mr.Rabbit and the Lovely Present.

Now, for the very first time, and published on the occasion of her 100th birthday, Zolotow’s most beloved seasonal poetry will be available in one collection— Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection

About the Illustrator:

Illustrator Tiphanie Beeke’s resplendent watercolors work beautifully with Zolotow’s poems, which capture the beauty of nature at different times of the year. Children will follow along as the seasons change with each poem. There is spring with the business of nest-building, summer with its abundance of roses, fall with the tangy perfume of chrysanthemums, and winter with the frozen pond surrounded by whiteness.

Poetry and nature lovers of all ages will delight in Zolotow’s classic poems and Beeke’s lovely illustrations, making Changes a perfect poetry collection for every child.


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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Weekly Update (4/18/215): What I'm Reading and Doing

I'm sleeping, mostly.  In addition to getting a full night's sleep, I've been taking a nap every afternoon.  I'm not going to lie.  It's fabulous.  I figure that I need to get as much sleep as I can in now because once the baby's born, my sleeping life will be non-existent. 

Other than sleeping, here's what I've been up to.

New Books! (Stacking the Shelves):

Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me Better Than Before by Gretchen Robin!  I'm really looking forward to this book.  Thank you to Walden Pond Press for sending me The Vanishing Island and the new paperback edition of The Real Boy.  I now own at least one copy of every edition of The Real Boy.  Is it crazy that I have no intention of giving up any of them?  I gave both of Anne Ursu's books to my mom for Christmas, but I bought her her own copies.  I'm keeping mine!

Ernest Hemingway is one of those authors that I've always been curious about, but didn't know where to start.  I got The Old Man and the Sea from the library and I have A Moveable Feast on hold.

What I read last week:
I read A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans to my kids.  I really enjoyed reading The Art of Work.  It's a book I would highly recommend to everyone!  It's definitely worth the read. Crimson Bound was good, but I enjoyed Cruel Beauty more.


As sad as this is, I couldn't finish Stolen Magic by Gail Carson Levine.  I fully expected to love this book since I've enjoyed her other books, but I didn't.  I got stuck several times and finally gave up about 40% of the way through.

What I'm currently reading:
Atlantis in Peril is also good, but there are some things about it I'm not liking.  Hopefully that changes as I get further into the book.  I just started Illusionarium and am loving it so far!   


What I'm reading next:
I'm really looking forward to reading The Island of Dr. Libris and Finding the Worm.  I don't know anything about the Kathy Reich series, so I'm a little skeptical of Terminal, but I'm always willing to give a book a chance.  

What are you reading?

Giveaways to Enter:

Win all 3 picture books!

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