Friday, July 31, 2020

Review: Always the Last to Know

Always the Last to Know
Barb and John have been married fifty years, but it's not working. Barb wants a divorce. But before she can talk to her husband, he's in a bike accident following a stroke. He's in very bad shape. To compile matters, when she's in the hospital with her daughters, she learns that he's been having an affair.

She keeps this secret from her daughters. One of whom is the light of her life. But Juliet has her own struggles with having it all. Her life is perfect but she's spiraling out of control. Sadie's floundering with her life's direction and her big dreams that haven't quite panned out.

How all three women are living in the same town and struggling to come to terms with their new normal.
My Thoughts: I loved this book for the relationships between this family. I felt heartbroken for the ladies in this book and all they dealt with. I loved the small town Connecticut and reading about places familiar to me. Plus I was happy to see some old favorite characters from the previous book. I loved the conversation about perfection, having it all, asking for help, and discovering the love of your life. I love how the family found each other again and how they worked through their differences. Another magnificent story from Kristan Higgins.

Cover Thoughts: I love the covers
Source: My Library
Library Recommendation: Kristan Higgins is a must have author for your public libraries.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Review: Doughnut Fix

The Doughnut Fix (The Doughnut Fix #1)
Tristan likes living in the city, so he's unhappy when his parents decide their going to move to the country. There's nothing excited about the country. Then he comes across a sign for Chocolate Cream Doughnuts at the general store.

Turns out the sign is old and the owner refused to make doughnuts anymore. Tristan talks her into giving him the recipe as part of a school project. Now he's committed to making doughnuts and starting up a business.

Could the country be not as bad as he imagined?
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. I felt for Tristan as he dealt with moving to a new place. But I loved exploring the country with him. I loved his doughnut project - and of course the book made me crave doughnuts. I enjoyed his family - they made me laugh. Reading this book gave me that nostalgia feel. I'm excited to read the sequel.

Cover Thoughts: Cute
Source: My library
Library Recommendation: Grab this one for your school and public library

If You Like:

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Picture Book Review: Saving the Countryside

52349410. sx318 sy475

Beatrix Potter loved the summers she spent in the country during her childhood. She found inspiration in the country and created Peter Rabbit. As Peter Rabbit became a success despite the odds, she saved her beloved countryside.

My Thoughts: I adored this book. The illustrations were gorgeous. I loved learning about a lesser known part of Beatrix Potter's life. I love that she found success in breaking the rules and that she wanted to do something that mattered. I love that she flourished as an author/illustrator but also used science. I loved that deep down she was a business woman and understood how the world worked. And she used that to her advantage. A very informative beautiful book. 

Highly recommended for school and public libraries

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Feminist Picture Books

This week's topic is a freebie. I'm chatting about some favorite feminist picture books biographies I've read so far this year. I love reading about smart women. Several of these books were my first introduction to these women. And the books made quite an impact.

Anna Strong: A Spy During the American RevolutionAlthea Gibson: The Story of Tennis' Fleet-of-Foot Girl
Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile BallerinaMaking Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe
The Only Woman in the Photo: Frances Perkins & Her New Deal for AmericaAlice Across America: The Story of the First All-Girl American Road Trip
Lizzie Demands a Seat!: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar RightsThe Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read
The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne52349410. sx318 sy475
Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA MathematicianIce Breaker: How Mabel Fairbanks Changed Figure Skating

Monday, July 27, 2020

Review: Pippa Park Raises Her Game

Pippa Park Raises Her Game
Pippa Park lives in the poor side of town and attends public school. She loves basketball, but her guardian sister won't let her play if her grades are too low. When Pippa 's invited to join the private school on a basketball scholarship, she's overjoyed. Of course it means keeping her math grade up, but she can't wait to join the team.

With private school, Pippa believes that she can reinvent herself and become cool. And it works. Soon after practicing with the team, she's invited to the cool girl table.

But keeping up with the cool girls means hiding her true self. She doesn't want them to know that she's poor. She doesn't want them to know she went to the public school. She doesn't want them to see her family life. With all the lies, it's only a matter of time before the truth comes out...
My Thoughts: I was drawn into this book because of the basketball angle and the cover is super cute. And I wasn't disappointed. I did wish for a bit more basketball scenes. I loved Pippa's family and how they looked out for her. I loved her friendship with Buddy.  I also loved all the talk about Korean food and the culture. 

It's a great book about finding your way in middle school when everything around you is changing. Pippa makes several mistakes, but of course she figures it out. It's hard being the new girl in school - especially when you're trying to be someone you're not. Plus it's hard keeping your school life and your home life separate. But at this age, life is all about friendship and family. This book captured it really well.

Cover Thoughts: Adorable
Source: My Library
Library Recommendation: A great middle school book for your school and public libraries.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Review: Meet Me at Midnight

Meet Me at Midnight
Sidney and Asher and their families have been vacationing together for years. The first summer was magical. But after that, the prank war started. Now the two of them can't rest easy around each other.

But when the pranks threaten to ruin their summer, it might be time for a truce.

Can Sidney and Asher go back to being friends? Could there be feelings between the two of them? Old habits are hard to dismiss, but the growing attraction between the two of them can't be ignored...
My Thoughts: I love that Sidney and Asher spent every summer pranking each other - but I also love how they started a truce and became friends. Also that Sidney can hold a grudge (something I appreciate).  Of course the pranks were fun to read about. And I also enjoy a good enemies to lovers story. I also loved that the two main characters were going to college in the fall and were both on the swim team - and spent the summer training together. I loved the party spent playing games. A very fun summer romance that is on the YA/New Adult line.

Cover Thoughts: Cute
Source: My Library
Library Recommendation: A fantastic summer romance for your YA collection.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Review: Jane Austen Society

The Jane Austen Society
Just after WWII, a group of like minded people came together to focus on their hometown hero - Jane Austen. In the small English village of Chawton, her followers decided there needed to be more. More about the author, More about her life. And more about her legacy.

They formed a society to create something magical. The society helped them form new friendships, gave them a sense of purpose, and gave them a new outlet for their bookish feelings.
My Thoughts: I have mixed feelings about this book. I wanted to love it. But I didn't. I did love reading about the characters' love for Jane Austen and her works. I loved their discussions of the books, their excited about her legacy and her personal belongings, and how they came together.

What I did not love: 
The rape scene to further the plot - which was unnecessary
How the afterword mentioned fascinating stories about the actual society - which never made it into the book

I guess my biggest issue was none of this was real. And I so badly wanted a book about the actual society and how Chawton Cottage came to be a museum. (And it's a lovely museum - I enjoyed reading about the necklaces I had seen there and the writing desk).

I guess I just wanted SO MUCH for this book and felt so let down after reading it. 

Cover Thoughts: Charming
Library Recommendation: Highly Recommended - there will be lots of interested for this book.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Picture Book Review: Help Wanted, Must Love Books

50746908. sx318 sy475

Shailey's Dad gets a new job and can no longer read to her just before bed. Shailey interviews readers for the position. Fairy Tale characters apply - but none of them seem quite right for the job. 

I loved this book - it's perfect for summer reading. It's very funny. I loved the fairy tale characters who appeared looking for a job - even though they were all wrong for it. Of course I loved the reading before bed time tradition. 

A must have picture book for school and public libraries.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Festivals

This week's topic is about book festivals you'd love to attend. I confess outside of BEA, I haven't really been to any book festivals.

There are a few I've always wanted to attend...

Rochester Teen Book Festival
Boston Teen Author Festival
YA Fest (Pennsylvania) 

Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend
KissConn (I went to a mini one once and would love to go to a major one.)
Readers and 'Ritas
Boas and Tiaras

Crime Bake

Have you been to any of these?

Monday, July 20, 2020

Review: Be Not Far From Me

Be Not Far from Me
The woods can kill you. Ashely knows this to be true.

But it becomes real after a night partying in the woods with her friends.

After she drinks. After she catches her boyfriend with another girl. And after she stumbles blindly into the woods and hurts her foot - badly.

When she wakes up in the morning - everything hits her. She's lost. She has no idea where she is. She can't walk. She has no supplies.

How is she going to survive?
My Thoughts: I'm not going to lie - this book was hard to read in some parts. Gruesome. Ick. Gross. But also, I didn't want to stop reading. I wanted to know what happened and how everything turned out. And it was not the way I expected it. I loved how Ashley was determined and strong. I loved that she had a knowledge of the woods and it helped keep her alive. She was impressive and brave. I would not be that brave.

Cover Thoughts: Intriguing
Source: My library
Library Recommendation: A great survival story/thriller for your public library's collection.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Book Pairings (1)

Welcome to a new posting. In the library world, we talk about Book Pairings all the time. There are libraries that bundle fiction and nonfiction books on the same subject together for check-out.

In this case, these are two recent nonfiction books that I read:

Give Us the Vote! by Susan Goldman RubinStamped by Jason Reynolds

I read Give Us the Vote first, which really helped me when I read Stamped a few days later.
I knew what Jason Reynolds was referring to in terms of voter suppression and more because I had just finished this book. I was happy I had the extra knowledge that was fleshed out a little bit more. 

These two books both deal with race and anti-racism. They are both excellent reads.

Hopefully, I'll be sharing more Book Pairings in the near future...

Friday, July 17, 2020

Graphic Novel Review: Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones
When Jen and her mom move from the city to the country, everything changes. It's not just the move. Now they're living with her mom's new boyfriend. And his kids will spend weekends with them. 

Life on the farm is different. There are so many chores - plus there's selling their goods at the market. Jen's awesome at art, so creating a great looking sign is right up her alley. But she's terrible at math, so helping run the cash register gives her anxiety. 

Jen's having a hard time learning where she fits in...
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this graphic novel. I felt terrible for Jen as she struggled to find her new place with her new family. I loved the idea of living on a farm and I loved reading more about all the work that goes into it - although I'm not sure I'd like all the chores. I loved the Jen was finding a place of her own - especially with her art projects. I felt terrible for her as she navigated through her new family life - especially her mom's boyfriend. I loved how her new sisters and her connected - eventually.  A great graphic novel for anyone who's trying to find a place of their own and figure out where the fit in life.

Cover Thoughts: Cute
Source: My Library
Library Recommendation: Highly recommended for your school and public libraries - this one will fly off the shelves. 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Review: Heart So Broken and Fierce

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers, #2)* Book 2 in the Cursebreakers Trilogy *
The curse is broken in Emberfall, but the royal troubles are not over. Rumors swirl that Prince Rhen has a half brother. No one knows his identity, but rumors swirl that he has magical abilities. Prince Rhen's determined to locate his half-brother and kill him. He can't have magic ruin the kingdom - again.

Grey's been hiding since they destroyed Lilith. He's keeping his secret, the kingdom, and his brother safe.

But forces beyond their control pull them together. Grey must decide his future - no only for himself but for his band of followers.
My Thoughts: I really loved this book. The perspectives shifted from the first book, which took me by surprise. And it took me a few pages to get used to the idea, by then I was hooked and had to read immediately. I loved learning more about Grey. I loved his loyalty and his willingness to put the kingdom first. I admired him and his great big heart. I felt terrible for Lia Mara for her family situation, although I admired her strength and determination. I loved her moments with Grey and her sister. I loved seeing favorite characters. I loved the action and the plot twists that I didn't see coming. I can't wait to read what happens next!!!

Cover Thoughts: Fantastic and matches the first cover really well
Source: ARC from BEA 2019
Library Recommendation: This series is a must have series for your public libraries (as is the authors non-fantasy books).

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Picture Book Wednesday: Ronan the Librarian


Ronan is a barbarian - gathering and stealing treasure. One day he finds a book - which no one else wants. He can't believe it. But then he starts reading and can't stop. And he tries to share his love of books with others...

Not surprisingly, I loved this book. I loved the message about books as treasure. And sharing books. I love how Ronan hooked others on reading. Plus the illustrations are great. 

And best of all, there's a sequel coming!

Librarian Recommendation: Highly Recommended for your school and public libraries!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Made Me Smile

This week's Topic is Books that Made Me Smile - for this I'm going with books that left me with a book hangover! Because they were SO good. And it's books I've read this year.

Michigan vs. the Boys by Carrie  S. AllenThe Bookworm Crush by Lisa Brown RobertsFour Days of You and Me by Miranda KenneallyBreak the Fall by Jennifer IacopelliEvery Reason We Shouldn't by Sara Fujimura

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. MaasCrush the King by Jennifer EstepMermaid Inn by Jenny HolidayThe Boyfriend Project by Farrah RochonBlitzed by Alexa  Martin

And I'm stopping at 10...

Monday, July 13, 2020

Review: Playing Hurt

Playing Hurt
Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone's admiration back home. Then she took a horrible fall during senior year. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
That summer, Chelsea's dad hires Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player and "boot camp" trainer, to work with her at a northern Minnesota lake resort. As they grow close, Chelsea finds that Clint's haunted by his own tragedy. Will their romance end up hurting them all over again—or finally heal their heartbreak?
- summary from publisher

My Thoughts: I really liked this book, even though it does contain cheating. I loved the exploring during vacation - and the different outdoor activities (hiking, kayaking...). I enjoyed the pull between Chelsea and Clint. I felt badly for both the main characters as they struggled through their grief. But I did love their determination and strength. I like how open they became with each other as they spent more time together. I felt terrible for Chelsea as she struggled with finding herself in her family - particularly with her father. I did love her brother - he was great. I'm eager to see where the next book goes.

Cover Thoughts: Cute
Source: eARC for review
First Published: Published March 8th 2011 by Flux 
But it's been updated for the re-release.

This one is on the line of New Adult and YA 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

In My Shop: Christmas in July

It's one of my favorite times of year - when I start thinking about Christmas.

I love Christmas. And making gifts for people makes me happy (when they come out well.)

Maybe something I made is perfect for someone you know.

I've got Ornaments 
Here's a Mr. Darcy Ornament

Gift Tags

and more!

Plus new items will be going up monthly in the shop.

Like these items? Take a look. And maybe give my shop a favorite.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Series Review: Baby-Sitters' Club

As I read several of these books in fifth grade, I was super excited to learn about this series. I couldn't wait to watch it - and I wasn't disappointed.

Spoiler: it was PERFECT

It was a modern day adaptation, but it kept the phone line. Obviously you have to have the phone line for the meetings.

I loved seeing the character stories I remember from the books - even if they were very different (the camp stories). But I love the updates.

Things I Loved:
ALL the Inclusivity
Babysitting Moments
The sister moment(s)
Talking about the internment camps
The Parent Trap Dance
Karen's Creepiness 
That Clueless Reference!

The casting was Really Well Done.

I honestly wouldn't change a thing about this series. It captured the heart of the book series.

When does Season 2 come out?

Fun Fact: Author and Editor David Levithan worked as a book consultant for the show.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Guest Post: Kalynn Bayron

Creating a Cinderella Retelling

Cinderella Is Dead is the story of 16-year-old Sophia Grimmins, a young girl living in the kingdom of Mersailles—this is the place where Cinderella lived and died 200 years before. Cinderella’s story has become the backbone of this society, and young women are expected to follow in her footsteps by attending the now mandatory, annual ball, to be chosen by prospective suitors. This kingdom has used Cinderella’s story to manipulate and control the women and girls who reside there. As Sophia is preparing to attend the ball she grapples with how this story doesn’t speak to who she is. She’s in love with her best friend, Erin, she doesn’t want to be married, and she watches the people around her fail to help her at every possible opportunity. The ball is a turning point for Sophia. She makes some decisions that put her on a collision course with Mersaille’s ruler, and in the process she uncovers some earth shattering truths about Cinderella, Prince Charming, and the fairy godmother.

There are versions of what would become Cinderella that date back hundreds, even thousands, of years. In preparation for writing my own retelling, I read the many stories that came before the version we’re now familiar with; the Brothers Grimm version from 1812, the Charles Perrault version from 1607, and the story of Ye Xian from around 850 AD first published in the Tang dynasty compilation Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang written around 850 by Duan Chengshi. Around the first century AD, the story of Rhodopis was popularized. It’s about a Greek woman living in Egypt whose sandal is carried off by a bird and dropped in the lap of the Pharaoh who then sets out to find the owner of the shoe. And there is a similar story recorded five centuries before, by Herodotus in his Histories. This version eludes to at least a part of the story being an account of a real life event. Through all of its iterations, over the passage of so many hundreds and hundreds of years, common threads can still be found, the most prominent being a young girl mistreated by other women in her own family is saved by a prince or king and lives happily ever after. 

One of the reasons I wrote this story was because I really enjoy a retelling that makes me rethink earlier versions of the tale. Wicked (more so the stage production than the novel) is one of my favorite retellings. It did so much more than simply rework The Wizard of Oz. It opened up the world around it and ultimately made me see the Wicked Witch in an entirely new light. She was a one dimensional villain in one story and something completely different in another. That’s what I wanted to do with Cinderella Is Dead. I wanted to approach this retelling in a way that would make readers question everything they thought they knew about the Cinderella story.

Cinderella is highly visible in the pantheon of children’s tales. That’s Cinderella’s castle at Disneyworld! Her blue dress and glass slippers are iconic. I wanted to retell a story that was instantly recognizable and deconstruct it in a way that centered the kinds of people who are nowhere to be found in the story itself, mainly Black, queer people. I wrote this story that explores not only how fairy tales have the power to personally affect who we become, but also allows us to see this fairytale world through the eyes of a young woman who is actively harmed by the societal norms the fairytale perpetuates. It’s a continuation of the story and a kind of expanding of that already established framework. Because this is a bit more of a reimagining than a retelling, I kept the entire Cinderella story intact but with the idea of it being a sacred, historical text and ultimately a piece of propaganda used to further the will of this kingdom’s rulers. When my main character Sophia is navigating this world there are callbacks to Cinderella herself, Prince Charming, the fairy Godmother, the ball, but as she begins to uncover the truth, we pull back and see the bigger picture—that all that glitters isn’t gold.

Storytelling is fluid. It’s constantly evolving, stories are constantly changing. Even a story’s origins can change through retelling. Things become canon that weren’t before. Other elements are cast aside in favor of new ideas. I think that’s what I’m trying to do—changing stories in a way that allows me and my readers to have access to them in a way we didn’t before. 

Wow - I love this. And I really can't wait to read this story! 
Plus, it's perfect for the summer reading theme this year of Imagine Your Story. 

Cinderella Is DeadAbout the Book:
Title: Cinderella is Dead
Author: Kalynn Bayron
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

About the Author:
Kalynn Bayron is an author and classically trained vocalist. She grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. When she’s not writing you can find her listening to Ella Fitzgerald on loop, attending the theater, watching scary movies, and spending time with her kids. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with her family.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Review: The Next Great Jane

The Next Great Jane
Jane's biggest dream is to become an author - just like her hero Jane Austen. When a famous author comes to her small town in Maine, she hopes to gain insight on the secret of writing. Nothing ever happens in her town, but on the night of the author event everything changes.

She meets an annoying boy. A hurricane sweeps through town. And her mother appears.

Now Jane's life is turned upside down and she's worried it will stay that way. She wants life to return back to normal and has a few ideas up her sleeve on how to make that happen.
My Thoughts: I loved this book. I needed to read it as soon as I heard it was about a girl wanting to be the next Jane Austen. And it was everything I imagined. I loved the small town Maine setting - and the Maine comments/jokes. I loved the Jane Austen references; they made me smile. I loved the moments between Devon and Jane. I loved the secret to writing. A great story about writing, science, friendship, staying true to yourself, and family.

Cover Thoughts: Cute
Source: My library
Library Recommendation: Grab this one for your school and public libraries - highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Picture Book Wednesday: Elephants' Guide to Hide and Seek

50204762. sx318 sy475

What does an elephant do when his friends want to play hide and seek? Elephants can't hide very well...but this guide might help.

Elephants don't understand the fun of the game, but this elephant reads a book that helps. A great book about friendship and sharing with really fantastic illustrations. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Read Authors

This week's topic is most read authors. Goodreads used to have a feature that let you check this - but they got rid of it. So instead, I'm going to look at authors I read last year. And because I read a lot of authors twice, I'll focus on ones more than 2 books.

Jasmine Guillory:
The Wedding Party (The Wedding Date, #3)The Proposal (The Wedding Date, #2)Royal Holiday (The Wedding Date, #4)

Sarah Beth Durst:
The Deepest BlueSparkFire & Heist

Jenn McKinlay:
The Good Ones (Happily Ever After, #1)The Christmas Keeper (Happily Ever After, #2)Dying for Devil's Food (Cupcake Bakery Mystery, #11)Word to the Wise (Library Lover's Mystery, #10)

Ellie Alexander:
Till Death Do Us Tart (A Bakeshop Mystery #8)Another One Bites the Crust (A Bakeshop Mystery #7)Live and Let Pie (A Bakeshop Mystery, #9)

Sarah Mylnowski:
Spill the Beans (Whatever After #13)The Big Shrink (Upside-Down Magic, #6)The Legends of Greemulax

Jennifer Lynn Barnes:
Deadly Little Scandals (Debutantes, #2)The Lovely and the LostLittle White Lies (Debutantes, #1)

Jill Shalvis:
The Lemon Sisters (Wildstone, #3)Playing for Keeps (Heartbreaker Bay, #7)Wrapped Up in You (Heartbreaker Bay, #8)

Meg Cabot:
Bridal Boot Camp (Little Bridge Island, #0.5)No Judgments (Little Bridge Island, #1)Black Canary: Ignite

James Patterson:
Private Rio (Private, #11)Private Paris (Private, #10)Ali Cross