Tuesday, July 22, 2014

YA Review of Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

Age Range: 12 and up

Series: None

Genre: Contemporary/romance

Print Length: 309 pages

Publisher: Scholastic Press (April 29, 2014)

Source: From Publisher via NetGalley (thank you!)

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

About the Book:

A deliciously charming novel about finding true love . . . and yourself.

Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter's town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam's girlfriend while he's in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn't at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what's real and what's fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds - her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life? 

About the Author:

Kim Culbertson is the author of CATCH A FALLING STAR; INSTRUCTIONS FOR A BROKEN HEART, a Northern California Book Award winner; and SONGS FOR A TEENAGE NOMAD. When she’s not writing young adult novels, she teaches high school English and writing. Kim lives with her husband and their daughter in northern California. For more about Kim, visit www.kimculbertson.com.

My Thoughts:

This is such a sweet book. I love so many things about it. The main character, Carter Moon, is a small town girl with a big heart. She is happy with her life and doesn't want to chase the big city dreams other people have for her. Adam is a complex, yet stereotypical celebrity character. He wears many faces and Carter is never sure which, if any, are real.

Carter does a lot of discovering in her story. She discovers a lot about herself and about love. She also discovers that people aren't always who they appear to be, and that she can't fix every problem she's faced with. Sometimes, they aren't even her problems to fix and she has to accept the shortcomings and disappointments that come with having family and friends.

I really liked this book. I would highly recommend it to teens. It's clean, it's sweet, and it's insightful. Lots of young adults will be able to relate to Carter and her journey.

Content: A few mild (very mild) cases of innuendo. Clean otherwise.

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


Monday, July 21, 2014

Weekly Update (7/21/14): What I'm Reading Now

The rain has started, and it doesn't look like it's going to stop.  I would feel bummed about it if I didn't have so many great books to read. :)  Here's what I've been reading:

What I read last week:

I finished Throne of Glass and Ruin and Rising, both of which I enjoyed.  I absolutely loved A Match of Wits!  It was so fun.  Girl to Girl was a fantastic book for growing girls.  I read an excerpt from A Tale Dark & Grimm, but didn't have access to the whole book. 

What I'm currently reading:

I just started on Crown of Midnight and am about 15% of the way into it.  So far, so good.  Here is Where is a non-fiction book about the author's travels throughout America to locate places where significant, yet forgotten, events have taken place.  It's really fascinating!  I haven't made any more progress on The Worst Hard Time, but I'm hoping that I will get a chance to read more of it soon.

What I plan to read next:

I've been reading too much YA recently and I will admit that I'm burned out on it, but I am looking forward to The Geography of You and Me.  I'm hoping that I will still be enjoying the Throne of Glass series by the time I get to Heir of Fire.  I've heard good things about Loki's Wolves and am looking forward to reading that book.  I could use a good MG fantasy right about now.  I am also super excited to read At Your Service.  The cover is adorable and it sounds very promising.

What are you reading now?

Middle Grade Review of The Swift Boys and Me by Kody Keplinger

The Swift Boys and Me by Kody Keplinger

8 - 12


Genre: Contemporary

Series: None

Print Length: 277 pages

Publisher: Scholastic Press (May 27, 2014)

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book:

The lyrical and moving middle-grade debut from YA author Kody Keplinger!

The lyrical and moving middle-grade debut from YA author Kody Keplinger!

Eleven-year-old Nola Sutton has been best friends and neighbors with the Swift boys for practically her whole life. There's the youngest, Kevin, who never stops talking; the oldest, Brian, who's always kind and calm; and then there's Canaan, the ringleader and Nola's best-best friend. Together, they have a summer of fun adventures planned.

But then everything changes overnight.

When the boys' dad leaves without even saying good-bye, it completely destroys the Swift family, and all Nola can do is watch. She tries to hold on to them, but they are changing. Kevin stops talking, Canaan starts hanging out with mean boys, and Brian is never around. Nola just wants things to go back to the way they were -- the way they've always been.

Is Nola strong enough to save the Swift boys from themselves, or has she lost them forever?

About the Author:

Kody Keplinger was born and raised in rural western Kentucky. She always enjoyed writing and began working on “novels” when she was eleven. She wrote her first published young adult work, THE DUFF, during her senior year of high school. Since then, she has written SHUT OUT and A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE, as well as the forthcoming title GOLDFISH. Kody currently lives in New York City and writes full time.

My Thoughts:

I really liked this book. Nola is a sweet girl who can't understand why her best friends, the three Swift boys, are acting so different after their father leaves. Canaan especially breaks her heart when he starts hanging out with some sketchy neighborhood boys and starts picking on her.

This is a story about growing up. It's about change, finding happiness, the end of some relationships, and the beginning of others. It's about dealing with challenges and making new friends. I liked the way Nola grew and changed over the course of the book. She learns the difficult lesson that people can let us down and relationships are fragile things.

With simple and elegant writing, The Swift Boys and Me is a heartfelt middle grade book that will appeal to kids ages 8-12.

Content: Clean

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


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #15: 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 totally and completely fell off the wagon this week.  There were just SO many good books coming my way and I couldn't say no.  My husband pointed a very accusatory finger at me this morning when I had not one, but three books show up in the mail. Even so, I am making great progress on my TBR list.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel! Or rather, a bottom to my stack of books—even with the new additions.

Here's what I got this week from authors, publishers, and other bloggers:

Children's Books (Board Books):

Thank you to author Joan Holub for these two adorable board books!

Middle Grade/Lower YA Books:

Thank you to Sterling Publishing for sending me a copy of Itch Rocks! I really enjoyed Itch and I am SUPER excited to read the sequel. You can read my review of Itch HERE.

Young Adult & YA Non-Fiction:

Thank you to Steph at Cuddlebuggery for sending me No One Else Can Have You and Deep Blue! I am really excited to read both of them. Thank you to Zest Books for The Green Teen Cookbook and Sticky Fingers. I love non-fiction, and these two books are right up my alley. I was showing my six year old the Sticky Fingers book and we were deciding which projects to try out.

I didn't get any ebooks this week. What new books have you gotten recently?

Blog Tour and Review of The Dreamosphere by Laura Stoddard

The Dreamosphere by Laura Stoddard

Age Range: 8-12

Series: None

Genre: Urban fantasy

Paperback: 208 pages

Publisher: Sweetwater Books (July 8, 2014)

Source: From publisher for tour

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

About the Book:

What if dreams don't disappear when we wake up? Haunted by her sister's death, Gwen Stoker takes solace in her web of dreams-the Dreamosphere. But when someone begins destroying it, Gwen must find the culprit-or risk losing all her happy thoughts and feelings forever! Dreams come to life in this fantastical children's tale!

Book Trailer:

About the Author:

Laura Stoddard was born in Idaho and spent her formative years running amok in the great outdoors. She received her bachelors degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. After being rejected from the masters program for creative writing she decided that she didn't need a masters degree to tell her she could write, so she started really dedicating her time to finishing the story she'd started months earlier, with the goal of writing a complete novel, and getting it published. The result is her debut novel, The Dreamosphere, for which her own vivid, bizarre, and incomprehensible dreams provided the inspiration.  Laura is an adrenaline junkie and will try anything once--or twice--or maybe three times. She can already check whitewater rafting, going down in a shark cage, and skydiving (three times) off of her list. Oh, and getting Lasik. It was five minutes of terror. She enjoys hiking, rowing, reading classic literature, embarking on new adventures and hobbies, volunteering regularly, and spending time with family. She currently resides in Phoenix, Ariz.



"What do you think happens to your dreams after you wake up?"
Gwen shrugged distractedly, too disoriented by her sudden arrival in the remarkable setting to focus. "I dunno. They disappear?"
The unblinking gray eyes of her young companion flashed as she leaned forward. "Incorrect. Every dream you've ever had still exists. All of them. They reside in a dimension called the Dreamosphere. It's where we are right now, as a matter of fact. Each dream basically exists as its own world, or dream-orb. There are thousands and thousands of them, connected like drops of dew on a gigantic spider web. Every dream you've ever had, Gwen. They're all up here. And you can visit them any time you want."
Tabitha, the enigmatic child who shares this information, has some even more shocking news. Gwen’s dreamosphere is in danger. Someone has been hacking into it—destroying her dream orbs, erasing pieces of her past, and affecting Gwen in more ways than she realizes. Together, Gwen and Tabitha travel through the outlandish landscape of Gwen’s dream worlds to find the person responsible. What will happen to Gwen when all her dreams are gone? What critical clues lie within the pages of her dream journal? And what does Edgar Allan Poe have to do with it all?

My Thoughts on The Dreamosphere:

While I wasn't crazy about this book, I still liked it quite a bit. I liked the concept of the dream webs and the orbs and how the kids could travel from one dream to the next. I also liked Gwen and her life in the real world. I loved her dreams, too. They were crazy, nonsensical situations that made me smile.

The first half of the book was repetitive, with Gwen going to school, coming home, going to sleep, learning about dreams, waking up, and following the same pattern for several days. Many of the dream sessions in the first half could have been condensed into one or two trips to the Dreamosphere. There were also some details that were irrelevant to the plot and I wasn't sure why they were included.

The second half of the book picked up and moved along nicely.  The bad guy was appropriately scary and I liked learning his motives and his rationalizations for what he was doing. Gwen was an interesting character that had some deeper issues going on than just her dreams. She developed and matured over the course of the book as well as made some new friends and improved her outlook on life.  She also learned to let go of her pain and accept the past for what it was. The ending left the possibility for more books, but it can definitely be read on its own. This is a good book for young kids that want an unusual and different adventure.

Content: A small bit of non-descriptive violence.

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Western Roundup Giveaway Hop! Win One of SIX Horse Books!

Welcome to the Western Roundup Giveaway Hop featuring books of the west.  This hop is hosted by MK McClintock and my giveaway is being sponsored by Straw Hat Publishers.

Straw Hat Publishers is giving away two copies each of the books featured below.  The winners can choose either a mobi or epub copy of the book they win.

About the Books:

A Horse Called September
The moving story of a passionate friendship between two girls growing up together on an isolated Devon farm in the 1970s, the break-up of that friendship -- and the horse that changed their lives forever.

Now available as an ebook for the first time, Anne Digby's debut novel is a childhood favourite both with English-speaking readers and with readers of various editions in translation. Other Straw Hat ebook titles for lovers of classic horse stories include Anne Digby's THE QUICKSILVER HORSE and Alan Davidson's QUEEN RIDER.

Queen Rider
Impossible Bonnie Wyndham, expelled from her last three schools, knows she's only been accepted at sports-mad Almonside because she's a superb rider. She doesn't intend to stay long. Just long enough to prove she's the best. But equally Ruth Caradon, her tough, soft-spoken riding instructor, doesn't intend to let Bonnie get the better of her and queen it around Almonside. Or -- is their conflict about something different altogether?
A riveting study of a power struggle, with a nail-biting show jumping background, from the author of The Bewitching of Alison Allbright.

'The momentum begins to build from the very first lines and never flags at all....Highly recommended.' - REVIEWSHEET


 The Quicksilver Horse
Anne Digby's enthralling story of horsemanship and a bittersweet boy-girl friendship in the 1970s is set against a circus and racing stables background.

"A book to be read cover to cover without being put down.......a gripping story which will be loved" -- BOOK EXCHANGE

Other classic horse riding novels reissued by Straw Hat in ebook format include Anne Digby's A HORSE CALLED SEPTEMBER and Alan Davidson's QUEEN RIDER.

There are two ebooks of each title up for grabs, so there will be SIX WINNERS!

Giveaway Details:

2 ebooks of  A Horse Called September

2 ebooks of Queen Rider

 2 ebooks of The Quicksilver Horse

Open internationally

Ends  July 31, 2014

Entrants must be 13 or older to enter or have a parent/guardian enter for them.  Winner must respond to my email within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen.  Use the rafflecopter below to enter.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now that you've entered my giveaway, be sure to hop on over to the other participating blogs for more chances to win!

Friday Favorites #18: Illustrator Spotlight on Bill Bolton

Tressa from Wishful Endings hosts this meme every Friday.  I use the meme to highlight some of my favorite illustrators.

Today I'm featuring Bill Bolton!

Bill Bolton's Work:

The thing I like about Bill Bolton is that he works in so many different mediums. He creates both traditional and digital artwork, and he offers visualization and design services. Even though he uses different mediums, he still maintains his unique style across them all. I love the colors he uses. His art doesn't really push any boundaries or make me gasp, but it's solid. There is something to be said for artists that are consistent in their delivery and their quality.

About Bill Bolton:

A British illustrator, I Graduated in 1990 from Oxford Brookes University followed by several years working exclusively for two major greeting card publishers. I then recruited Advocate as my agent and have since worked across the board illustrating children’s book, in Advertising, Editorial, Publishing and Design. It keeps me busy!

Having 20 years experience under my belt I know the importance of working to a specific brief and meeting tight deadlines. I am a very versatile artist, being equally at home with a mouse or a brush in my hand (sometimes both!).

As you can see, my portfolio is diverse, from highly stylised people, to whimsical cutes. Most of my illustration work is character based and I can help you develop new characters or update existing ones.

I have a passion for the environment and live in an earth sheltered house. At the weekends you might spot me under the wind turbine or mowing the roof.


Books with Art by Bill Bolton:

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