Thursday, October 30, 2014

YA Review of Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Age Range: 12 - 18 years
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Series: A Waterfire Saga Novel
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (May 6, 2014)

Genre: Fantasy

Source: ARC from Cuddlebuggery for review

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book:

Deep in the ocean, in a world not so different from our own, live the merpeople. Their communities are spread throughout the oceans, seas, and freshwaters all over the globe.

When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil. Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin's arrow poisons Sera's mother. Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the Mer nations. Led only by her shadowy dreams, Sera searches for five other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas. Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.

My Thoughts:

This is an entertaining underwater tale about a young mermaid and her quest to save her kingdom from destruction. The buildup was pretty slow, and not much seemed to happen in the story other than historical explanations and lots of swimming away from the bad guys. It ended rather abruptly, but it's the first in a series of four books.

That being said, I really liked the book. It was well written with a unique setting. While the story didn't bring anything new to the table (it was your typical coming of age story) it was engaging. I enjoyed reading it and especially liked the way it was light on the romance. It was pretty clean, with only a few instances of violence. It's clean enough to be enjoyed by all YA readers, not just the older ones.

I would recommend this book to someone looking for a story about sisterhood, friendship, and self-discovery.

Content: Some violence and made up curse words, but I consider this a clean book.

Source: I received an ARC of this book from the Cuddlebuggery blogger review program in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Finishing School Read-Along! Come Join the Fun!

Tressa at Wishful Endings and I are hosting a read-along for the Finishing School series!  We would love for you to join us!  We've both read the first book, Etiquette and Espionage, so we are going to focus on the second and third books in the series. If you haven't read the first book, feel free to sneak that one in.  Or if you've read the first two, you can join us for the third.  You can participate as much or as little as you'd like. 

The best part?  We are giving away THE ENTIRE SERIES!  You read that right.  All three books in the Fishing School series will be up for grabs to one lucky winner.  It will be open internationally, too, as long as The Book Depository ships to you for free.

Want to participate?  Here's the schedule:

Nov 1: Read-Along Launch
Nov 7: Curtsies, chapters 1-8
Nov 14: Curtsies, chapters 9 -16, epilogue, and final thoughts on the book
Nov 21: Waistcoats, chapters 1-8
Nov 28: Waistcoats, chapters 8-16 and final thoughts on book
Nov 29: Read-along wrap up

Nov 30: Giveaway winner announced

We'll be posting our thoughts about the books as we read them, and we'd love to read yours as well.  Use hashtag #FinishingRA to keep up with all the updates and add your own.  You can include me (@denabooks) or Tressa (@tressherm) in your tweets if you want. 

Questions?  Email me at reviewkidsbooks@gmail.com or Tressa at wishfulendings@outlook.com.

Ready to start reading?  Add yourself to the linky and prepare yourself for a fun month in November!

Weekly Update (10/28/14/): What I'm Reading Now

First off, I'm going to be doing a READ ALONG with Tressa from Wishful Endings in November.  If you haven't read the second and third book in the Finishing School series, you should add your link to the linky and join in the fun!  We are also going to be giving away the entire series!  It's going to be so much fun!

Here's what I've been reading.

What I read last week:

Deep Blue was a fun coming of age story that takes place entirely underwater.  I haven't read anything like that before.  Every mermaid book I'd read had them falling in love with human, so this was a welcome change.  Princess in Black was absolutely adorable and I read it to  my girls several times.  Captain Awesome is another short chapter book that is great for kids in Kindergarten or First Grade.

What I'm currently reading:

This section hasn't changed much in the last month.  I'm still cruising along with Dangerous Deceptions.  I started reading The Woman Who Would be King.  It's very interesting, but based on the author's imagination more than fact.

Technically, I'm not actually reading Curtsies and Conspiracies yet.  I got about 3 pages in and then Tressa from Wishful Endings and I decided to do a read-along in the month of November for both that book and Waistcoats and Weaponry.  If you want to READ ALONG with us, you can!

My October/November TBR Pile:

I'm going to try and keep my TBR pile for November small so I can add books to it if I need to.  It's pretty much the same pile as I had in October, so hopefully I'll get some of these books read.  I'm excited to read The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson.  It's sitting on my nightstand, just waiting for its turn. :)

What are you reading?

Giveaways to Enter:

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop (win a $10 Amazon gift card!)

Daisy to the Rescue (win a copy of the book!)

The Code Busters Club (win the entire series!)

Bad Dog Flash (win a hardcover!)

YA Review of Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Age Range: 14 and up

Grades: 9 and up

Genre: Historical fiction/romance

Hardcover: 400 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins (November 4, 2014)

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

About the Book:

A sweeping, epic saga of romance and hardship, set against the dramatic backdrop of ancient Mesopotamia—perfect for fans of Cleopatra's Moon or the adult bestseller The Red Tent.

In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden's tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden's turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe's leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family's position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden's heart.

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden's heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb's increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden's every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family's survival on the line, Jayden must finish the deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find true love for herself.

My Thoughts:

This book took my breath away. I loved the immersive story and the rich setting of ancient Mesopotamia. The customs, traditions, and beliefs of the desert people were captivating and every time I set the book down I couldn't wait to pick it up again. I've never read anything like this before.

Jayden was a wonderful protagonist and her fears, hopes, and loves were all very real. I easily slipped inside this historical world and experienced everything right alongside Jayden. Kadesh was wonderful, and Horeb was perfectly awful. I loved all the characters!

This is definitely a book for older YA readers as it has quite a bit of content. I wouldn't give it to a twelve year old, but maybe a fifteen year old. As always, I recommend that parents read a book before handing it off to their kids to ensure they are comfortable with the level of content in it.

Content: Innuendo, violence, brief nudity, and an attempted rape.

Source: I received a digital galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Blog Tour and Giveaway of Writing Great Books for Young Adults

Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks

Age Range: Teens and adults

Genre: Nonfiction

Paperback: 224 pages

Publisher: Sourcebooks; 2 edition (October 7, 2014)

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book:

Break into the Bestselling Young Adult Market with this IndispensableGuide!

Whether you're just getting started or are on the hunt foran agent or publisher, Writing Great Books for Young Adults is your completeinsider source on how to succeed in the flourishing world of YA fiction andnonfiction. In this updated and revised edition, veteran literary agent ReginaL. Brooks offers invaluable advice for YA writers on everything from shapingyour novel to crafting the perfect pitch for your book.

Learn How To:

•Develop an authentic, engaging voice and writing style

•Construct dynamic plots that will resonate with readers

•Avoid common pitfalls related to tone and point of view

•Navigate the emerging genres of YA nonfiction and New Adult

•Create an exceptional query letter and proposal that willgrab the attention of agents and publishers

You'll also discover how successful film adaptations like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games have broadened the market for your book.Filled with tips and advice from agents, editors, and popular YA authors,Writing Great Books for Young Adults is your ticket to an incredible YA career!

"Brooks offers writers who are serious about attractingteen readers solid guidance through the creation process of writing YA fiction."—LibraryJournal

My Thoughts:

I believe every teacher has something to offer, and this book has some fantastic advice for anyone wanting to write fiction for young adults. It's not as easy as people assume, nor is it like any other age group. It is a unique area all itself and it requires careful navigation to get it right. The advice in Writing Great Books for Young Adults is solid and will be beneficial to anyone that reads the book.

It's laid out in a text book style and goes through each aspect of writing YA fiction, gives advice, and provides examples.  The only problem with this book is that it has some dry spots that are hard to stay focused on.  However, if you can look past that, you will find a wealth of information about writing for the young adult audience and how to appeal to its thriving market.

This book has great advice and is a must read for anyone wanting to improve their skills or break into young adult fiction.

Source: I received a digital galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Excerpt from the Book:

The key to writing a successful YA novel means knowing kids well enough to channel their voices, thoughts, and emotions. (“Kids” is used as an operative word here. The official YA audience encompasses twelve-- to eighteen--year--olds, but it is expanding as children’s book publishers work to attract readers as young as ten and eleven, and adult publishers reach to capitalize on the growing market.) While some of your readers may be a little younger than the twelve--to--eighteen target—-children aged ten to twelve tend to read above their age—-and some may be a little older, keep in mind that you have to convince all segments of your audience that you know what it feels like to be a young person today. If you can’t convince your audience that you know how they feel about the world today and express yourself the same way, you will never reach them.

Whether YA readers attend elementary or secondary school isn’t an issue when it comes to the importance of YA Fiction Rule #2.

Young people won’t abide stories that suggest that their turmoil or idealism will pass when they “grow up.” Brent Hartinger, author of Geography Club, says, “I’m a big believer that kids are smarter than we think they are.…I think kids can handle complexity and nuances, and the advantage to writing that way is that the book appeals to both teenagers and adults.”

Many adults read fiction as an escape—-teens are no different. Imagine spending a long day in school, learning boring lessons ’cause you’re supposed to, having everyone from parents to teachers to employers telling you what to do, how to think, what to wear, then picking up a novel—-and having someone else trying to shove another lesson down your throat! I can’t imagine a bigger letdown.

Don’t deal with young people by trying to push them in one di-rection or another. Deal with them where they’re at now.

A word of caution: don’t emulate your favorite authors, but learn from them. You’ll want to create work that is truly your own. In the resource guide at the back of this book, along with details such as schools that offer writing degrees with a YA focus, you’ll find listings for websites that recommend great YA fiction.

About the Author:

About the Author: Regina L. Brooks is the founder of Serendipity Literary Agency and has been developing award-winning authors and books for over a decade. She has been highlighted in several national and international magazines and periodicals, including Poets and Writers, Essence, Writer’s Digest, and Sister2Sister, Forbes, Media Bistro, Ebony, and Jet. She lives in New York City.

Connect with Regina:

Giveaway Time!

Win a printed copy of Writing Great Books for Young Adults

US and Canada only please

Ends Nov 10, 2014

Entrants must be 13 or older or have their parent/guardian enter for them.  Winner must respond to my email within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen.  Contest is void where prohibited.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #27: Meet My New Books!

Welcome to Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  This is where I share the new books I've gotten recently.

I've been very good at not adding a lot of books to my TBR pile lately, but I did add two this week.  I've been excited to read both of these since I first saw them.  Now, I can hardly wait until I finish my current reads so I can dive into these.

Young Adult Book:

Thank you to the Book Look Blogger program and Harper Collins Christian Publishing for sending me The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson! I'm SO excited to read this book. I own every book that Melanie has written, but this will be the first one I've actually read.

Adult Book:

Thank you to Random House for sending me The Woman Who Would be King by Kara Cooney.  This is a non-fiction book about Hatshepsut and her life.  I know I'm not alone in my fascination with Egypt's mysterious female Pharaoh, and I'm excited to dive into this biography about her.  I've perused through the book a little bit, and it seems interesting, but also very speculative.

That's it for me this week.  What new books have you gotten?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Review of The Fran with Four Brains (Franny K. Stein: Mad Scientist)

The Fran with Four Brains (Franny K. Stein: Mad Scientist) by Jim Benton

Age Range: 7 - 10 years
Grade Level: 2 - 5

Series: Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist (Book 6)
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (August 28, 2007)

Source: Library

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book:

Being a mad scientist in the modern world is very hard work. With so much that needs to be done in such a short period of time, multitasking can get way out of hand. Franny needs some additional help. But for Franny there is only one person in the world she trusts to help her with her experiments -- herself. So she acquires assistance the mad-scientist way, by building a few real, live, steel-plated Franbots.

My Thoughts:

If you are looking for an early chapter book that breaks the norm, give this series a try. Franny is a mad scientist that kids will love. Kids that enjoy creepy things will especially like this series.

When Franny feels overwhelmed with her school and extracurricular activities, she makes a few Franbots to take her place. When Franny decides the Franbots are too active for her mother, they hatch a plan to turn Franny and her family into food. Franny must find a way to stop the bots before they take over the world.

This is a super cute and fun chapter book with black and white illustrations on every page.

Content: Some mild violence (she destroys the robots)


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