Monday, August 31, 2020

Review: Geekerella

Geekerella (Once Upon a Con, #1)
* First book in a series *
For most people, Starfield is an amazing show. But to Elle, it's so much more than that. The show is tied up with her parents' memories (both now deceased). A movie is now being filmed, so publicity is ramping up.

When she spies show's Con will have a cosplay contest, she knows that she must enter. She finds her parents' old costumes in the attic. Elle's co-worker volunteers to help Elle re-fit the costume for her body.

Elle must keep both her co-worker's new friendship and the Con a secret from her family. They will ruin it for her or worse - forbid her to attend. She vows not to let them ruin her chance.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this retelling of Cinderella. I loved how Elle and her "prince" met and started to communicate. I enjoyed the growing friendship between Sage and Elle. Obviously I felt heartbroken for Elle with her home situation. But I did love her blog and her dedication to the famdom. I loved the love for fandoms this book showcased. I quite enjoyed the secondary love plot. And I'm looking forward to the second and third book.

Cover Thoughts: Charming
Source: My library
Library Recommendation: A fun fandom romance - perfect for your school and public library collections.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

TV Series Review: Diary of a Future President

See the source image

I found out about this Disney+ Show while watching Disney Insider (which is also really great!)

Disney Insider Poster

Which is also super good and interesting. When they talked about this show created by Ilana Peña and led by a all women creative team, I knew I had to watch it.

Gina Rodriguez appears in the very beginning as the President. (How cool is that?) 
I was hoping there would be a little more back and forth between the future and the present.

However, the present is fantastic. I loved the cast of characters.
I loved how everyone struggled with romance or friendship or family - but how they all came together and relied on each other.

There is a lot of feelings here. 
Also a lot of diversity which is great. And lots of inclusivity. 
There's LGBT moments - questioning your feelings and sharing those feelings with the world.

There are also bullies (it is middle school after all). 

I loved the teasing moments between the family.

This is a sweet family drama about the beginning steps of Elena as she becomes a leader. Of course she struggles and makes mistakes and put things back to right.

It's funny and sweet and real.

I'm so happy this has been renewed because I want more of all these characters.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Review: Something to Talk About

Something to Talk About
When Hollywood writer Jo takes her assistant to an awards show, the pair's photograph sparks dating rumors.

At first Emma things the rumors are annoying but that they won't last.  Paparazzi find her house, she's getting calls from reporters, and her family isn't quite sure what to believe. But the rumors persist and everything starts to change.

Emma's never thought about her boss before in that way, but once the rumors start, it's hard not to look at Jo differently. The two of them are becoming closer - something in between co-workers and friends.

With Emma's time working for Jo coming to a close, would it be a good time to start a romance?
My Thoughts: I've been longing to read this since I first heard about it. I was under the impression that this was a fake dating story - it's not. But it is a Slow Burn Hollywood Romance. And it was really really good. I love Hollywood stories - this one was a little bit different in the fact that neither of the main characters was an actress. I loved reading about the other side to Hollywood. I loved the idea that Jo came up with to help women in the field, I really want to read/know more about that project. I didn't want this book to end - and I hope for more stories set in this world so we can see some favorite characters again! This is Meryl Wilsner's debut novel - and I'm eagerly looking forward to her next book.

Cover Thoughts: Charming
Source: My library.
Library Recommendation: A must have for public libraries and their romance collection. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Review: Nikki on the Line

Nikki on the Line
Nikki's excited to play basketball for an elite club team. It's the team that will make or break her basketball career. She's not afraid to work for it. This team will help her make the basketball team in high school and hopefully beyond.

She's thrilled to discover that she's made the team, but as time goes on everything changes. She's no longer a point guard but she's never been a shooting guard. Most of the girls are taller and faster than her. When she overhear some nasty comments made about her by a parent, she begins to doubt herself.

That doubt grows and multiples with each mistake that she makes (and she makes a bunch). Nikki's struggling at everything - her basketball, finding her place on the team, friendships, school work, and taking care of her little brother. Can she dig deep and rediscover her confidence?
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book - mostly for the basketball but there is a lot of other good moments. I loved Nikki's work ethic and how she wanted so hard to do her best. I loved the basketball moments - even though they were intense. I felt bad for Nikki and how money became an issue for her and her family. But I admired her solution. And I really did love the moments between Nikki and her brother. The bits about her mother and her reading habits amused me. I loved her moments with Booker. I found it interesting that they bonded over hardships in the family life - things they didn't want all the students to know about. A great book about basketball - but also about friendship drama, new friendships, family, and dreams.

Cover Thoughts: Great
Source: My Library
Library Recommendation: Another great middle grade sports book for school and public libraries - highly recommended. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Picture Book Wednesday: Love Sophia on the Moon

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Sophia is mad! She runs away to the moon to escape all the rules. But she does leave a note for her mother. Her mother writes her back. They begin to send each other letters until finally Sophia comes home.

A sweet funny story about imagination, space, and feelings. The mother sends back clever messages to her daughter, but there's always love in her letters. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Questions for Authors

This week's topic is 10 questions to ask any author. Of course I would go back in time to speak with Jane Austen! I have so many questions for her!

Top Things to do in Bath if you love Jane Austen
photo credit:
1. Did she really hate Bath?

2. Did she instruct Cassandra to burn her letters upon her death?

3. Why? (or maybe the better question is) What was in the letters?

4. I don't have a specific question, but I'd love to talk with her about her writing - her process, her style, and what she really thought of her characters.

5. In her wildest dreams, did she ever imagine people would be reading her work 200 years later.

6. How did she imagine her unfinished work would end?

7. Did she have a favorite book that she had written?

8. Did she have a favorite book that she read?

9. What was her deepest darkest secret?

10. Where you she most like to travel if money was no object?

What would you ask Jane Austen?

Monday, August 24, 2020

Author Interview: Fleur Bradley

I'm chatting today with Fleur Bradley, the author of Midnight at the Barclay Hotel. 
This book was a delightful read. Check out reasons it should be on your radar.

Midnight at the Barclay Hotel

Would you spend a night in a haunted house? And do you believe in ghosts?
I would absolutely spend the night in a haunted house! Honestly, I’m a deep sleeper, so I’d probably sleep through any haunted activity… I’m not sure if I believe in ghosts. I’ve never seen one, though I have heard noises in our house I can’t explain. I really hope I see a ghost someday…

Do you have a favorite mystery you read as a kid?
There were a few—I loved Enid Blyton books (the Secret Seven series), but otherwise there weren’t a whole lot of mysteries in the children’s section when I was growing up (in the Netherlands). I ended up moving on to Agatha Christie books when I was about twelve, and absolutely fell in love with the mystery genre. Midnight at the Barclay Hotel is a bit of an ode to Agatha Christie.

Have you ever solved a mystery in real life? Or would you make a good detective?
Other than solving DIY problems around the house, I’m not much of a detective. I think I could make a good detective in real life, though… I’m pretty tenacious and curious. And I love a good puzzle. I watch my share of true crime TV, and I’m always fascinated by detective work, and the dedication it takes to solve a crime.

What book have you read recently and loved?
I loved Keep This to Yourself by Tom Ryan, a YA mystery I recently picked up. In middle-grade, I loved American As Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar and A Home for Goddesses and Dogs by Leslie Connor—both not really mysteries, but great summer reading.

What's your favorite writing snack?
Peanut M and Ms! But since that’s not the healthiest snack, I divert to baby carrots—not as fun, but better for me. When I really, really get wrapped up in my writing, I sometimes forget to eat… That’s when I know I’m on a roll.

Anything else you want to share about the book?
Midnight at the Barclay Hotel is a great introduction for kids to the traditional mystery: it even goes over investigative techniques, like how to determine motive, means, and opportunity for each suspect. The book is really an ode to those Agatha Christie mysteries I love so much—but in a safe, kid-friendly way.
For teachers, I have a teacher guide and info on Zoom/Skype visits at I hope everyone enjoys Midnight at the Barclay Hotel as much as I enjoyed writing it!

About Fleur Bradley:
Fleur is passionate about two things: mysteries and getting kids to read, and she regularly speaks at librarian and educator conferences on reaching reluctant readers. Originally from the Netherlands, Fleur now lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and two daughters, and entirely too many cats.
For more information on Fleur and her books, visit, and on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor.
About Midnight at the Barclay Hotel:
Hunting ghosts and solving the case before checkout? All in a weekend's work.

When JJ Jacobson convinced his mom to accept a surprise invitation to an all-expenses-paid weekend getaway at the illustrious Barclay Hotel, he never imagined that he'd find himself in the midst of a murder mystery. He thought he was in for a run-of-the-mill weekend ghost hunting at the most haunted spot in town, but when he arrives at the Barclay Hotel and his mother is blamed for the hotel owner's death, he realizes his weekend is going to be anything but ordinary.

Now, with the help of his new friends, Penny and Emma, JJ has to track down a killer, clear his mother's name, and maybe even meet a ghost or two along the way.
Want More? Follow along with the Midnight at the Barclay Hotel blog tour:
Aug. 3rd: Book review at Always in the Middle
Aug. 11th: An interview at MG Bookvillage
Aug 14th: Book review at Charlotte’s Library
Aug. 16th: Guest post: Fleur talks about reaching reluctant readers at Unleashing Readers
Aug. 18th: Review and giveaway at MG Mojo
Aug. 19th.: Interview and giveaway at From the Mixed-Up Files
Aug. 21st: Book review at Our Thoughts Precisely.
Aug. 23rd: Interview and giveaway at Spooky MG
Sept. 4th : Fleur talks about getting out of your comfort zone on Kirby Larson’s blog
Sept. 8th: Fleur outlines how to develop a compelling MG concept at Writer’s Digest

Friday, August 21, 2020

Graphic Novel Review: ACT


Sixth grade means things will be different. Olive's excited about the class field trip, but afterwards she learns that not everyone can afford the field trips. Those students have to stay behind. Olive doesn't believe that's right. 

When she hears about the election for student council, she realizes that she has a chance to make a difference. But that's not the only injustice that she hears. Soon Olive has a list of ideas to make the school better.

To bad her opponents only want better snacks. They don't care about the school. As the election draws closer, Olive and her friends have different views. Will the election tear them apart?
My Thoughts: I really loved this addition to the series. I loved Olive learning more about the inner workings of the school. I loved that students shared their troubles with her. I felt bad for her about her friendship hardships, but I loved how she wanted to make a difference. And that she knew she could make a different. I enjoyed how everything turned out. I wonder if this book might spark some reader's political interest.

Cover Thoughts: Cute
Source: My Library
Library Recommendation: A must have book for school and public libraries.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Review: Keep it Together Keiko Carter

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter
Keiko's about to start seventh grade, but she's not excited about all the changes happening. Her mom just went back to work full time. She wanted to join new clubs with her friends, but they don't have the same interests.

One of her best friends is concerned with finding boyfriends and attending the big fall dance. Her other best friend is interested in writing and the newspaper. And maybe one particular boy.

Suddenly Keiko's best friends aren't talking to each other. She's stuck in the middle, trying to hold everything together. But nothing seems to be working. Should she follow her heart or her desire to keep everything the same?
My Thoughts: I really loved this book and I'm so happy there's a companion novel coming. I felt terrible for Keiko as she navigated through all the changes in her life. But I also admired her for trying to make everyone happy and then for making herself happy. I liked her relationship with Carter. I loved both the dogs. There was the slight romance for two of the friends. And so much friend drama, but I loved the way everything turned out. There are a few instances of racism towards Keiko, which she handles. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book. Of course this book made me crave chocolate - and to reach out to my friends. 

Cover Thoughts: Adorable
Source: My library
Library Recommendation: A must have book for your school and public library

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Picture Book Review: Back to School Books (part 3)

I've read a few back to school books this year - some sent for review from publishers and some purchased for the library.  Some old books and some new books. This is the final and third part. Check out parts one and two

Princess Power
Princess Power:
A young girl is inspired by several Disney Princesses to rule her first day at a new school. I enjoyed this clever book - using the guidance of Princesses throughout the day. 

I Got the School Spirit
I Got the School Spirit:
This book is part of a really great series. A young girl looks forward to the first day of school, but realizes that not everyone is excited. She shares some of her spirit and makes a new friend. Of course I loved the spread about listening to the story. And I loved the message about how important it is to learn.

Bears Make the Best Writing Buddies
Bears Make the Best Writing Buddies
Theo does not love writing - but with some help from his friends, he starts to write all the things. His bear friend stays by his side helping solve his writing problems. Good story about friendship and writing. This is also the third book in a series.

When My Brother Gets Home
When My Brother Gets Home:
A young girl and her dog wait for her brother to get home from school so they can play together. She has so many ideas on what they can do. A sweet sibling story that's perfect to share when older kids go off to school. I loved the illustrations in the story.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Should be Adapted

This week's topic is books that I would love to see adapted. And there are SO many great books that would make a series or a movie. Here are just a few favorites from books I've read recently. 

Also here are my picks from last year.

Michigan vs. the Boys by Carrie  S. AllenMermaid Inn by Jenny HolidayBreak the Fall by Jennifer IacopelliEvery Reason We Shouldn't by Sara FujimuraThe Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel

On Thin Ice by Christina SoontornvatCrush the King by Jennifer EstepWinterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor by Ally CarterFlashback by Shannon Messenger

Monday, August 17, 2020

Review: Yes, No, Maybe So

Yes No Maybe So
Maya's having a rough time lately. Her best friend is leaving for college soon and is too busy to spend time with her. Her summer vacation was just canceled. Her parents are testing the waters with a trial separation. Ramadan just isn't the same this year. Maya gets roped into canvasing for a senator with a boy she barely remembers from her childhood.

Jamie's not thrilled about canvasing; he hates public speaking. He'd rather be doing something behind the scenes. But being partnered with Maya isn't so bad.

As they start to work together more often, they start caring more about the campaign and each other. As they reconnect, their conversations deepen. Could their friendship turn into something more?
My Thoughts: This is a long book - but I didn't want it to end. I loved reading about Maya and Jamie. I loved learning more about canvasing and the issues Maya and Jamie faced. I loved how their conversations became deeper the longer they hung out together. I loved how they became invested in the campaign (and each other). I loved Jamie's grandmother and her social media account. The dual perspectives made this book. I found the ending hopeful and inspiring. 

Cover Thoughts: Love it.
Source: My library
Library Recommendation: A great political book for your romance collection that touches on racism, religion, and friendship. Highly recommended for school and public libraries.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Books and Treats (13)

A new blog idea inspired by Andi @ with the Pub Date where a few bloggers share book and beer pair ups.  Andi states that the idea is the brain child of Brittany at The Book Addict’s Guide.

Often times when I read books, I know they're going to make my mouth water because their foodie books. But I wasn't expecting this one.

Party of Two (The Wedding Date, #5)

This book, which was delightful, made me crave cake. Mostly chocolate cake. But also coconut cake. 

Photo Credit:

Friday, August 14, 2020

Picture Book Review: We Will Rock Our Classmates

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Penelope (a T-rex) can't wait for her talent show. She's going to show her class that she can rock! But standing up in front of everyone can be scary!

This is the second book starring Penelope Rex. And it's just as adorable as the first book. I love the artwork. It's ok to be shy and scared. I love the message about being brave and letting your friends help you. I also loved the message that everyone has a talent and that can be anything you want to be. I hope there are more Penelope Rex books coming. Another great funny book from Ryan T. Higgins.

PS. Ponies! That was funny.

Library Recommendation: This is a must have book for you school and public library!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Fall Teen Program Ideas

Everything is different this year. And harder. But maybe it will allow for some different kids of programming. It's hard to know exactly what to do.

But that's not all that different from teen services. You never really know what's going to be an amazing program and which one might be a dud.

And it might be a chance to reach more teens, do different types of programs, and try new things.

Some of these ideas might be great cross-over ideas for adults too. As usual, these program ideas are from Pinterest!

Over the summer at my library, we did lots of Take and Make bags. And we'll still do those.

One of the most popular themed bags was our Foodie Fun.

Foodie Fun:
We put bags together with some ingredients that not everyone would have at home.
There are videos on Facebook and our YouTube channel.

We're going to do more of these.

We have six fall recipes planned.
Here's the September one:

Rock Candy:
I've always wanted to make this with teens, but the timing!
However, if they are making this at home, the timing doesn't matter as much.

Art Bags:
These seem to go pretty well over the summer too.
Book Art would be a fun project - again, the timing is tricky for inside the library, but not for virtual.

Art Nights:
We haven't done this yet, but I would LOVE to!
Here's a good fall one.

Spa Night:
This could be a whole series. You do bath salts, face masks, bath fizzies....

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Picture Book Wednesday: Back to School Books (part 2)

I've read a few back to school books this year - some sent for review from publishers and some purchased for the library.  Some old books and some new books. This is part two. If you missed the first one, click here.

Lola Goes to School
Lola Goes to School:
It's Lola's first day at school and it goes really well. It's over before she knows it. Another great addition to the Lola books.

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Harlem Grown:
Right across the street from a school, there's an empty lot filled with trash. It would make the perfect garden. That's exactly what happens in this story about learning about gardening and making the world a little brighter.

Max & Mo's Science Fair Surprise
Max and Mo's Science Fair Surprise:
The classroom children are getting ready for the science fair. The two hamsters want to take part too. So they sneak out of their cage to discover a science project for themselves. A fun addition to this series.

Rescuing Mrs. Birdley
Rescuing Mrs. Birdley:
Miranda sees her teacher in the grocery store, but she knows that all the teachers live at the school. Plus Miranda's an expert at watching nature programs. She decides to take matters into her own hands and return the teacher back where she belongs. A funny story about seeing teachers outside of school. 

Butterflies on the First Day of School
Butterflies on the First Day of School:
Rosie can't wait for school to start. But the night before she gets nervous - really nervous. Her mom tries to help her, saying her nerves are just butterflies. But when Rosie opens her mouth on the bus, a butter flies out! A great story about kindness, friendship, and being nervous. 

The Best Seat in Kindergarten
Best Seat in Kindergarten:
It's Sam's first day of school! He's excited when the class goes outside on a nature walk. At the end of the walk, there will be a show and tell. Sam's too busy helping his classmates find what they're looking for to search for himself. But what he found was better. A sweet story about friendship and starting school off on the right foot.

Pirates Don't Go to Kindergarten!
Pirates Don't Go to Kindergarten:
Emma doesn't want to start Kindergarten, she wants to rule Pre-K still. Everything feels wrong in Kindergarten, plus change is scary. But she gets where she needs to be in the end - without walking the plank. This is a fun story about change, accepting new things, and lots of imagination. 

Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can't Go to School!
Grown-ups (and the dog) decide they want to go to school instead of going to work. They want to have fun too; of course the kids are not thrilled at the idea. There's a compromise. This silly fun book is a great way to ease into going to school.