Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Salon - Monthly Reading Update - January 31, 2010

I'm on a quest to cut back on my reading and spend more time making my house into a home. Along with that comes spending less time on the computer and less money buying books. Here's an update on my progress.

1. Reading Challenges
I vowed to NOT officially join any challenges this year but to keep track of my pretend progress every month anyway.

The Debut Author Challenge (The Story Siren)(3) includes release date:
Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore (YA, Jan 2010)
Numbers by Rachel Ward (YA, Feb 2010)
Eighth-Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (MG, Jan 2010)

The In The Middle Reading Challenge (The O.W.L.)(4)
Camp Club Girls by Renae Brumbaugh
Sydney's DC Adventure by Jean Ferris
The Year The Swallows Came Early by Katherine Fiztmaurice
Eighth-Grade Superzero

Young Adult Reading Challenge (J. Kaye's Book Blog)(9)
Take Me There by Susane Colasanti
Marcelo in the Real World by Fransisco X Stork
Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate
Carbon Diaries by Saci Lloyd
Magic under Glass
Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
Body Scoop for Girls by Dr. Jennifer Ashton
On The Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God by Louise Rennison

The Support Your Local Library Challenge (J. Kaye's Book Blog)(4)
The Year the Swallows Came Early
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging
On The Bright Side...

The POC Reading Challenge (POC Reading Challenge) (8)
Marcelo in the Real World
Camp Club Girls
Sydney's DC Adventure
Magic Under Glass
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Eighth-Grade Superzero
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

2. Budgeting Book Buying
I'm trying to keep my book buying to $30 or less each month. Here's what I purchased for January:

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (preorder)
Very Far From Anywhere Else by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Five Love Languages of Teenagers by Gary Chapman
Total: $29.95

I could argue that Finnikin doesn't count but to keep the accounting simple, I'm including preorders the month I order them.

Pretty good month. I'm working on reviewing more of the books read since I'll be reading a little less, but we'll see!

Total Books Read in January (17) - Books Read in 2010
Best Book for January - Numbers by Rachel Ward

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Out of My Mind
Sharon Draper
March 2010

From Amazon:

Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there's no delete button. She's the smartest kid in her whole school but no one knows it. Most people, her teachers and doctors included, don't think she's capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can't, because Melody can't talk. She can't walk. She can't write.

Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind, that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.

From multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon M. Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Get ready to meet a girl whose voice you'll never, ever forget.

This sounds awesome.
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted at Breaking the Spine by Jill.

What are you waiting on?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Blog Tour - Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Shanghai Girls
Lisa See
Random House
May 2009
309 pg.

My Thoughts
Pearl and May are two beautiful girls who live the good life in Shanghai. Shopping, partying, and being the face on calendars hanging in all the shops and houses - they believe their lives are perfect. Then, one day their father announces that they are to be wed. He has arranged marriages for them both. Pearl's and May's lives change drastically.

When war comes to Shanghai, May and Pearl know they must find their husbands in order to survive. What they find waiting for them in Los Angeles is nothing they could have prepared for. The find a family with "paper sons" and "paper partners" and girls are still of no value. I found the idea of people inventing relatives in order to become citizens fascinating. Selling yourself to come to America and find the "Gold Mountain" so that your "father" can know his ancestors will be blessed when he dies.

Lisa See includes lots of details to give you an idea of the places the girls see and the experiences that they go through. This can serve to put the reader in the book with the characters but for me, it made the book a little harder to get through. There are moments, though, that the book is thoroughly engaging: when their mother decides they will run away from the Green Gang rather than succumb to their demands, and when the mother makes the ultimate sacrifice to help her daughters carry-on and when the INS starts following their paper trail.

Although the plot jumped forward quickly, ten years here, two months there, those were just words the author inserted. I know that May's character was supposed to be immature, she was the younger sister and always doted on, but I couldn't see that Pearl had grown-up either. The introduction of the uncles and the father of a friend from the past seemed like afterthoughts. The ending demands a sequel but I won't rush to get it though I'm sure I will read it.

About the Author
Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of Peony in Love, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Flower Net (an Edgar Award nominee), The Interior, and Dragon Bones, as well as the critically acclaimed memoir On Gold Mountain. The Organization of Chinese American Women named her the 2001 National Woman of the Year. She lives in Los Angeles.

Lisa talking about Shanghai Girls

Shanghai Girls Giveaway
If you want to follow Pearl's and May's adventures from Shanghai to Los Angeles, from rich to poor, the dilemma of "paper sons" and soft-bone disease, you can!

Win Shanghai Girls!
Leave a comment to enter. Be sure to leave your email address!
US/Canada Residents Only.
Contest ends midnight, January 31, 2010.

Book provided by TLC Book Tours and Random House.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Books Read in 2010

January 2010
Take Me There by Susane Colasanti
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork
When She Flew by Jenny Shortridge
Camp Club Girls by Renae Brumbaugh
Sydney's DC Adventure by Jean Ferris
Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate
Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
The Year The Swallows Came Early by Katherine Fitzmaurice
Numbers by Rachel Ward
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
The Body Scoop For Girls by Dr. Jennifer Ashton
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God by Louise Rennison
8th Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Read: 17 Reviewed: 9

February 2010
14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy
The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade
Katie's New World by Kim Vogel Sawyer (Abandoned)
For Keeps by Natasha Friend
Goving Bovine by Libba Bray
Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony
Flash Burnout by LK Madigan
The Believers by Zoe Heller
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Copper Sun by Sharon Draper
The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemison
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
The Beautiful Dead by Eden Maguire
The Greatest Moments in Sports by Len Berman
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
Brightly Woven by Alex Bracken
The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness

Read: 17 Reviewed: 8 Abandoned: 1

March 2010
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr
Mia the Magnificient by Eileen Bogess
Being Nikki by Meg Cabot
Runaway by Meg Cabot
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Lowboy by John Wray
Wood's Runner by Gary Paulsen
Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan
Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
Mirror, Mirror by Marilyn Singer
Meanwhile by Jason Shiga
The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Fiddler on the Roof - play

Versus by Steve Stone
Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
Poetry Speaks Who I am
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Material by Rosalind Wiseman

Read: 22 Reviewed: 6

April 2010
Changeless by Gail Cari
The Red umbrella gonzales
Something like fate colasantes
Asking for trouble Byrd
After the kiss McVoy
Heaven Johnson
The first part last Johnson
Sweet, hereafter Johnson
Rapunzel's revenge hales
London eye mystery dowd
Gregor the overlander Collins
The garbage barge
The summer I turned pretty Han
Tighty whitey spider
The unwritten rule Scott
Happyface by Stephen Emond
Shadow of the wind Carlos Zafron
Gimme A Call Sarah Mylanowski
The red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
She's so dead to us Scott kieran
Let the great world spin mccann
Cardturner by Louis Sachar
One night with a duke Tessa dare
The last Christian by David Gregory
The reckoning Armstrong
Fever crumb reeve
HP and the Sorcerer's stone
100 cupboards nd Wilson
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Hp and the chamber of secrets
Dead end gene pool burden (a)

HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Out of my mind by Sharon Draper lib
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia lib
Green Witch by Alice Hoffman
Very Far Away From Anywhere Else by Ursula LeGuin
Dreamland by dessen
The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon lib
Countdown by Debeorah Wiles
The one I want by Allison Winn Scotch
HP and the Goblet of Fire
Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Hahn
Paper Daughter by Ingold
Losing My Cool by Williams
Alvin Ho by Look lib
Genesis by Beckett lib
The horse and his boy
Benjamin Pratt by clements
Incorrigibles by wood
Emma Austen
Birthmarked Obrien
The dreamer Ryan
Last Summer of the Death Warriors Stork p
Eternal Smile Yang lib
Mercury Larson lib p
Ubiquitous Sidman lib n
Dork Diaries lib e
Birthday Ball e n

The Last Battle by Cs Lewis YA
Demon's Covenant by Brennan YA LIB
13th reality by dashner MG LIB
The Westing Game by Ellen  MG LIB
My 100 Adventures by Polly  MG LIB
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott MG
The way of Kings by Sanderson YA
Angel experiment audio YA
The boneshaker by Kate milford  MG
Not that kinda girl by siobhan Vivian YA
Boys lie YA debut?
Nice and Mean leader MG debut?
Efrain's Secret Quintero YA LIB debut?
100% Gleeks Parker YA
The magician Scott MG
After Ever After Sonnenblick MG LIB
Hunger Games Collins YA
adventures of jack lime by leck MG LIB
Manifest by Arthur YA
Mockingbird by Erskine MG
Beautiful Creatures by Stohl and Garcia  YA LIB
Sit in pinkney MG
How to b an American housewife by dalloway A
The sorceress by Michael Scott MG
Catching Fire Collins YA
Tv production A

Premiere by Carlson YA
The Sky is Everywhere by Nelson YA E DEBUT
Rae by Swiggett YA NF
Flipped by Van Draanen YA
Necromancer by Michael Scott
Over the line by Martino YA Audio
Catwalk by Carlson YA
Virgin Territory by James Lecesne YA


Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Best YA Books You Haven't Read (And One MG!)

There are many, many books that get published each year and not all of them can win a Newbery, a Caldecott, a Batchelder, a Morris or a Printz or any of the other book awards. But that doesn't mean they aren't good. This year, I read over 50 books that had at least one starred review. But what happens to all of those books that don't get an award? Unfortunately, they may fall by the wayside.

In order to bring some of those books to light, Kelly at YAnnabe has asked us to put together a list of 5 to 10 books that we think deserve the spotlight. We will then link to Kelly's post so you can find more books that should be read! So, without further ado

1. On Pointe by Lorie Ann Grover
I found this book on Readergirlz almost 3 years ago, when they were just starting out and I was preparing to do an all girls summer book club. It's a story of family and relationships and growth and change. It's also a verse novel which means the writing is spare. It's also beautiful. You get lost in the story.

2. I am The Wallpaper by Mark Peter Hughes
Floey decides she wants to be someone new. She decides to totally reinvent herself including her personality. She writes in her diary and it's posted on a website by her cousin. She doesn't find this out until boys start coming out of the woodwork. Hughes does a great job with a "female voice", very believable.

3. Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes
Hughes second outing follows the band "Lemonade Mouth" from it's beginnings to it's almost debut. The book is told in alternating voices through a "reporter". Wen from I am The Wallpaper also appears in this book.

4. Scrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler
Eliot's family runs the Christian fat camp and Calliope's mom travels with a Renaissance troupe. The odds were against them ever meeting but it happens. The closer Eliot and Calliope become the more she wants to settle down. How can she convince her mom to stay?

5. Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur
LaFleur weaves together the past, present, and possible future in this story of Aubrey left alone. Aubrey's family is split in half and her mom walks out on her. She goes to live with her grandmother and starts her life over. As she goes about her days certain things trigger memories of her family. She also writes letters to help her understand her life. Things start to become routine and then her mom shows up. Make sure you have plenty of tissue!

So, those are my 4 YA and 1 MG I encourage you to spend your budget on or support your local library! Read these books! Now, head over to YAnnabe and find some other books to read!

Blog Tour - The Body Scoop for Girls by Jennifer Ashton

The Body Scoop for Girls: A Straight-Talk Guide to a Healthy, Beautiful You
Jennifer Ashton
Avery/Penguin Group
298 pgs (includes notes and index)

The Body Scoop for Girls is divided into three major sections: What to Expect When You're Adolescent, Straight Talk on Sex and Your Body's Lifetime Warranty. Within each section Dr. Ashton includes call-out boxes with playlists, true/false, Did You Know, and other information. The playlists are things she wants teens to remember while the True/False sections try to dispel myths. There are a couple of pictures included, one is a full-monty shot so be careful when reading this at school.

My Thoughts
My mother NEVER talked to any of us about sex whether to have or not to have. Dr. Ashton shares advice in a frank and friendly matter. She draws on examples from her own practice that will help teens make connections and not feel alone.

What to Expect When You're Adolescent, section 1, covers changes in the body. Ashton discusses when a teen should have their first gynecological exam, what vitamins they should take, and what's both common and uncommon as a body goes through puberty. I thought it was fascinating that Polycistic Ovarian Syndrome can cause acne and heavy periods. I've never heard of it and think I may have it! (p. 134) I also loved that she warned girls that they have until around the age of 25 to build those bones.

In Straight Talk on Sex, section 2, girls are encouraged to wait until at least 18 before having sex. Dr. Ashton explains that the older you are, the less risk you face. Waiting also increases a teen's chances of being in a stable relationship while choosing to have sex can lead to increased risk of STIs and unwanted pregnancies. I like that she doesn't actually encourage girls to have sex but tries to give them enough information to make the right choice. This section includes a sex ed pop quiz as well as Five Simple Rules for a Healthy Sex Life (167 - 169):
  1. Never tell your boyfriend you're on the pill.
  2. Tell your mother (or father) when you're sexually active.
  3. If you want to engage in adult behaviors, you need to act like an adult.
  4. Never do anything you don't want to do.
  5. Don't date guys more than a year older than you are.
Section 3, Your Body's Lifetime Warranty, deals with weight, eating and mood. Eating in moderation is encouraged as well as understanding that a teen's BMI is different than an adult's. Ashton points out that girls lack the enzyme that processes half of all alcohol in the stomach. (255) She also explains the dangers of drinking including getting hit with the date rape drug, something Dr. Ashton herself has experienced. We learn very little about eating disorders but the information is sound.

The Body Scoop for Girls is easy to read and understand. Even grown-up girls can find helpful information. I did take umbrage with her athletic girl vs bookworm, as if you can't be both. I loved that she extols the virtues of knowing what you will say to get out of sticky situations but I'm not sure how agreeable I am with her encouraging girls to lie. Though, if it gets them away from an uncomfortable situation... All in all, this book is a valuable and much-needed addition to any home with teen-aged girls as well as school libraries.

About the Author
Dr. Jennifer Ashton is a board-certified ob-gyn who specializes in adolescent gynecology. In March 2009, Dr. Ashton joined CBS as a news medical correspondent. She reports on a broad range of medical topics for CBS News’ The Early Show and contributes to the division’s other broadcasts and platforms.

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for this opportunity to review this book. Read an excerpt from The Body Scoop for Girls.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Salon - Are You My Newbery - Final Update 2

This is it! The Newbery award winner and honor books will be officially announced tomorrow, January 18. The winner has already been chosen by the committee because they have to give it to the press to be ready for the early webcast.

The committee members had to read hundreds and hundreds of books chosen because they were published for children, ages birth - fourteen, in 2009. The books had to be written by an American resident or citizen and couldn't have been published anywhere else first.

Books I Read
I mostly read books that had received a starred review from one of the major review organizations. Since I'm not on the many publishing lists I didn't receive boxes and boxes of books to read. So, I found most of my books at the local library. If they didn't have them, I pretty much could not read them. So, here's my full list of books I read to try and find the Newbery.
  1. Reality Check by Peter Abrahams
  2. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
  3. Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
  4. The Red Blazer Girls by Michael Beil
  5. Diego: Bigger Than Life by Carmen T Bernier-Grand
  6. All the Broken Pieces by Ann E Burg
  7. Wild Things by Clay Carmichael
  8. Fire by Kristin Cashore
  9. Happenstance Found by PW Catanese
  10. Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko
  11. Extra Credit by Andrew Clements
  12. The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane
  13. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  14. The Unfinished Angel by Sharon Creech
  15. Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
  16. Tropical Secrets by Margarita Engle
  17. Born to Fly by Michael Ferrari
  18. The Dream Stealer by Sid Fleischman
  19. The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
  20. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  21. Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French
  22. Crossing Stones by Helen Frost
  23. Jumped by Rita Williams Garcia
  24. Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff
  25. Forest Born by Shannon Hale
  26. Emmaline and the Bunny by Katherine Hannigan
  27. Scat by Carl Hiaasen
  28. Claudette Colvin by Philip Hoose
  29. Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
  30. Pop by Gordon Korman
  31. Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur
  32. Also Known as Harper by Ann Haywood Leal
  33. Wings by Jason Lethcoe
  34. Where The Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
  35. Crow Call by Lois Lowry
  36. The Rock and The River by Kekla Magoon
  37. Neil Armstrong is My Uncle by Nan Marino
  38. Eleven Birthdays by Wendy Mass
  39. The Small Adventures of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O'Connor
  40. Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry
  41. Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson
  42. Notes From The Dog by Gary Paulsen
  43. Season of Gifts by Richard Peck
  44. Mostly True Adventures of Homer P Figg by Rodman Philbrick
  45. SLOB by Ellen Potter
  46. The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
  47. When The Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton
  48. Mother Poems by Hope Anita Smith
  49. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  50. Almost Astronauts by Tonya Lee Stone
  51. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X Stork
  52. Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud
  53. Perpetual Check by Richard Wallace
  54. Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
  55. Escape Under the Forever Sky by Eve Yohalem
I must say even if I haven't read the award winner, I've read quite a few marvelous books! Any one of these books would make a valuable addition to any school library! The list includes a variety of genres, picture books, MG books, and YA books. Something for everyone!

My Top Picks
I loved many of these books so choosing my top ten was very difficult. I tried to stick to the Newbery criteria of distinguished writing and quality presentation to children. So, in alphabetical order, these are my top 5 in terms of Newbery-ness:
  1. Claudette Colvin by Philip Hoose
  2. Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LeFleur
  3. The Rock and The River by Kekla Magoon
  4. When The Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton
  5. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
The books I marked in bold are ones I think more suited for the Printz award. My top picks for the Printz, in order of love, are:
  1. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
  2. Fire by Kristin Cashore
  3. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X Stork
  4. Reality Check by Peter Abrahams
So, there you have it. I'll come back after the announcements to update this post with the actual winners.

Newbery Award Winner - When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Honors - Claudette Colvin, Where The Mountain Meets The Moon, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P Figg, Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Printz Award Winner - Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Honors - Charles and Emma, Monstrumologist, Punkzilla, Tales of the Madmen Underground

I've got some reading to do...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Are You My Newbery - Who They Picked - Final Update 1

SJCPLMockNewberyMy search is almost over. On Monday, January 18, 2010 at 7:45am the ALA will announce the Newbery Award winner, along with other Youth Media awards. Tune in to the live ALA Webcast to follow along.

I was involved in a few organization's Mock Newbery clubs and I want to share their results with you.

Allen County Public Library - ACPL Mock Newbery
The ACPL Mock Newbery held it's final discussions and votes on January 9. Kris, from St. Joseph County Public Library, and I traveled for two hours to get there. Each participant was allowed to pick one book to champion and two back-up books. Throughout the year, Mary Voors had posted summaries of books she thought would be eligible for the Newbery. You then commented on the post. She posted a total of 4 short lists with the final list containing 45 books. I read 32 of those books in time for the discussion.

ACPL Mock Newbery winner - When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Honors - Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
Crossing Stones by Helen Frost

Discovery Middle School Teacher Mock Newbery
A handful of the coolest middle school teachers around read from a list of 19 books that I chose. Our club's focus included finding books that may be added to a classroom library as well as books that would compliment the curriculum. Two of the books were the latest books by Katherine Paterson and Gary Paulsen, whose books are read by many of the 6th grade students. Our vote was extremely close and unfortunately, due to lack of time, we were not able to cast new ballots to get a clear winner.

DMS Mock Newbery top books in alphabetical order:
  • All The Broken Pieces by Ann Burg
  • Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane
  • When the Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton
St. Joseph County Public Library - SJCPL Mock Newbery
This was the only club I participated in that included students. I assisted Kris Springer, the Children's Department manager for all SJCPL branches. Kris has been doing this for a few years but this was my first time participating. There were around 25 students from ages 9 - 14 (oldest you can be to participate). The students included a mix of boys/girls and private/home/public school members. It was quite the lively crowd. Any librarian would kill for a group like this! These students had a list of 18 core books plus extra books for a total of 95 (or so) books. Kris ran the club very similar to the real Newbery committee and the students met over two days to finalize their votes from a list of 20 nominated books.

SJCPL Mock Newbery winner - The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
Honor books - Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma by Trenton Stewart
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

In the meantime, I've pretty much wrapped up my reading and moved on to other books until I pick up the search for next year's book sometime in late Feb/early Mar. I'll post my predictions during Sunday Salon.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blog Tour - Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Magic Under Glass
Jaclyn Dolamore
Bloomsbury USA
240 pgs. (ARC)

Who knew I would enjoy the story of a trouser girl, a sorcerer with no backbone, and an automaton?

Magic Under Glass combines a little Jane Eyre, in the form of a wife who is supposed to be crazy, with some magic realism. Nimira dances in a show that barely keeps her fed. Dolamore gives the impression that "trouser girls" are the lowest forms of dancers but somehow Hollin Parry is able to see something more in Nimira and offers her a job. She thinks about what her mom would think if she were still alive and decides she would be better off facing the unknown than staying with the troup.

Once Nimira gets to Parry's place and meets the automaton Erris, she realizes she's made the right choice. Parry is alone and has money. Maybe they can live happily ever after?

Then, Nim finds that Erris is more than he seems. He can "speak" to her by playing piano keys in a system she devised. Soon, it's all either of them want to do...But how can you love a machine?

Dolamore's writing is believable and pulls at your heartstrings. The short conversations between Nim and Erris were made all the more poignant due to their brevity and the chance they may be overheard. The plot moves quickly with a few spots of predictableness and some problems that were too easily solved. You found yourself rooting for Erris and wanting more than anything for them to discover a way to make him live.

I give this 3 copies. I think students will like it but the premise will make it a hard sell. Once I convince one student though, I can see them telling a friend.

ARC provided by Around The World Tours. This cover is NOT the one on the ARC but it's so much better, I had to include it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Review - The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove
Lauren Kate
245 pg (ARC)

My Summary
Natalie has come a long way to get to senior year in Palmetto. She's changed her looks and taken on a new background. Now all she has to do is win Palmetto Princess and she'll finally feel accepted. She has the perfect boyfriend and the best connections. There's only one person who can mess things up for her and that's Natalie herself.

My Thoughts
Betrayal starts out strong - I love Natalie's snarky voice. She's on the top and she knows it. She makes the rounds of the school, touching base with all the right groups ensuring that she and Mike will be Princess and Prince this year. We meet Justin (JB) while Natalie's on her rounds and we get the first hint that Natalie is not what we think.

As the story goes on though it morphs into more of the rich, high school soap antics type book we know so well. The way Natalie decides to callously cover up her mistake just bored me. The more I found out about her the less interested I was in her story.

I also felt there were too many pieces thrown in that weren't necessary to the story - Natalie's dad, Double D threatening Natalie, the whorish ways of the sophomore girls... I thought the ending was a copout also. What ever happened to Baxter and OP? Since a man can't change are we to assume Natalie couldn't change either?

For me, this book will only be purchased by request, so I give it 1 copy. I usually have a few students or teachers in mind when making a purchase and I couldn't think of any that might want to read this. But, I admit, these types of books are not my faves. I may have had a bias going here are some other reviews.

Steph Su Reads
The Frenetic Reader

ARC provided by Around The World Tours

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Salon - Challenges (I'm NOT joining) for 2010 - January 10, 2010

I always try to join challenges in the hopes that it will give more purpose to my reading and help keep me on track.

Unfortunately, that's not what ends up happening. Sure, it's just for me and there's no requirement to finish but I feel like I'm breaking promises. Albeit to myself. So for 2010 I've decided to do things a little differently.

I'm not going to officially join any challenges but when I come across ones I think fit in with my reading - I'll pretend like I'm a part of it and tell you how I'm doing.

1. Are You My Newbery 2011 and Some Day My Printz 2011
The 2011 Newbery has to be published in the year 2010. Some of those books will qualify for The Story Siren's Debut Author challenge and The O.W.L. The Middle Reading challenge. The 2011 Printz Award also has to be published in 2010 and they have to be young adult books. These books will qualify for J. Kaye's Young Adult challenge and some will also qualify for the debut author challenge. I will post more info on these at a later date which will include my list location and my selection process.

2. $30 A Month challenge
I'm going to severely cut back on buying books this year. My goal is to only spend $30 a month - about the cost of an adult hardcover. As a librarian, I should support libraries - both public and our school. This will help me qualify for J. Kaye's Support Your Local Library challenge and decrease some of the book clutter around here. Originally I was going to buy one book a month but I realized that sometimes I can get a few YA hardcovers for $30. Last year I spent over 3 times that much for books. I'm not going to even tell you how much over three times - I'm appalled and amazed at my foolishness...

3. Grown-up books
That's what I call adult fiction but not the racy kind of books. I want to read at least one grown-up book a month. There are some books I've had my eye on and I'm going to make sure I read them this year. Some titles are: Olive Kitteridge, Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Believers, Little Bee, and Chronic City from 2009. The only 2010 book on my list so far is The Unnamed.

I would also like to tackle a couple of classics, read books teachers use in their classrooms, read more steampunk, and more nonfiction. I'll post links of my reading lists as I create them.

What challenges are you facing this year?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Review - The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

The Dark Divine
Bree Despain
384 pgs.

My Thoughts
Grace Divine is in love with Daniel. Daniel, who disappeared after leaving her brother for dead. Daniel, who's name hasn't been mentioned by her family in three years. She knows he's dangerous and she shouldn't trust him. But she can't stop looking at him and thinking about him. She decides that, despite her brother Jude's warning, she should help him re-enroll in art class and she brings him food and clothes.

Soon, people turn up dead and Grace can't help but suspect Daniel. She tries to stay away from him. Then her dad gives her this book that changes everything she knew about Daniel and Jude. The more she learns, the more confused she becomes.

Although the Dark Divine was a fast read, I didn't find it particularly memorable. The characters seemed flat and I didn't get to know them well enough to decide if their actions were realistic. I could see how Grace might be attracted to Daniel, given her name and his cruel childhood but I didn't get a sense of anything that would make her thwart her family for him. Jude was also a mystery. He was portrayed as a good kid, almost too good, throughout the book until the very end. I couldn't see how he could make those choices in the end. The plot was a good idea, I just think it needed to be fleshed out more.

I can see a few students who might be interested in this book though with the werewolf and cute, bad guy aspect. I would give it 2 copies.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Blog Tour - Sydney's DC Discovery by Jean Fischer

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Sydney’s DC Discovery (Camp Club Girls #2)

Barbour Books (January 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Books for sending me a review copy.***


Jean Fischer has been writing for children for nearly three decades, and has served as an editor with Golden Books. She has written with Thomas Kinkade, John MacArthur, and “Adventures in Odyssey,” and is one of the authors for Barbour’s Camp Club Girls series. A nature lover, Jean lives in Racine, Wisconsin.

Visit the author's website.
Visit the Camp Club Girl's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $5.97
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (January 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602602689
ISBN-13: 978-1602602687



Splaaaashhh! Whoosh!

“Watch out!” someone called near Sydney’s ear.

But it was too late. The pent up explosion of the water landed square against Sydney’s back, knocking her to the ground.

Dazed, she rolled onto her back and looked up into the hot summer sky. The water swirled around her whole body. From a distance she heard happy shouting and water gushing onto the street.

A fireman’s face appeared above her. “Are you okay, little girl?”

Little girl? Little girl! I’m twelve years old! I’m not a little girl, Mister.

The indignation snapped Sydney out of her dazed condition. She looked up and saw that two firemen were now looking at her anxiously. Carefully they helped her to her feet.

“Are you okay, little girl?” She looked in the fireman’s face. He seemed so worried that her irritation melted.

Sydney looked down at her soaking gray tank top and shorts. “Yes, sir, I’m fine,” she said. “Thank you,” she added, remembering her manners.

Sydney Lincoln had been talking to one of her neighborhood friends. She hadn’t even noticed the firemen at the fire hydrant behind her. And she sure hadn’t realized she was in the direct line of the nozzle the men were releasing.

Still out of breath from the shock of the water, Sydney dropped onto the curb in front of her house. She tore off her running shoes and socks, and stuck her bare feet into the gutter. She watched as the water from the hydrant down the street shot into the air and out the nozzle. The neighborhood kids laughed and splashed in its flow.

As Sydney’s clothes began to dry in the torrid sun, the water rushed along the curb like a river. It streamed between Sydney’s toes and sent goose bumps creeping up to her knees.

Sydney lived in the middle of a row of brick houses. The two-story tall houses were connected so they looked like one long building. The only windows were in the front and the back. The houses were close to the street, and each had a narrow front porch with three steps leading to a tiny front yard and the sidewalk.

The screen door on Sydney’s house swung open, and her mom stepped outside. “Sydney, have you seen your Aunt Dee yet?” Her curly, black hair was pulled back with a blue band to keep it off of her face.

“No, Mom,” Sydney answered. “I ran past the Metro station looking for her, but she wasn’t there.”

“Well, when she gets here, you two come inside. Dinner’s ready.”

Sydney dipped her fingers into the water and splashed some onto her long, thin arms.

“Don’t you want to come in by the air conditioning?” Her mother fanned herself with a magazine. “Aren’t you hot in the sunshine?”

“No, mom,” Sydney answered. She didn’t think it was necessary to tell her mom about her little brush with the explosion of water.

The cell phone in the pocket of her pink shorts buzzed. Sydney took it out and found a text message from one of her best friends, Elizabeth Anderson. It said: Almost packed.

Sydney tapped a reply on her keypad: Can’t w8 til u get here.

Sydney and Elizabeth had met at Discovery Lake Camp, and although Elizabeth lived in Texas, they talked every day. Four other girls had been with Sydney and Elizabeth in Cabin 12B. They were Bailey Chang, Alexis Howell, McKenzie Phillips, and Kate Oliver. When camp ended, Kate set up a web site so the girls could stay in touch. It was password protected, so it was like their own secret cabin in cyberspace. They’d all bought web cams with baby-sitting money, chore payments, and allowances so they could see each other and talk online. The Camp Club Girls—as they liked to be called—made web cam calls, sent IMs, and frequently met in their own private chat rooms.

Sydney continued typing her message: Will pic u up @ d aport @ 4 2MORO.

“Sydney, I really wish you’d come inside.” Sydney’s mother crossed her arms.

“Okay, in a few minutes, Mother!” Sydney said, without looking up.

The screen door slammed shut.

This was the worst heat wave Washington D.C. had seen in twenty-five years. Everyone had air conditioners blasting. The energy load was way too much, and the night before, the power had gone out. Sydney hated being in total darkness. She was relieved that today seemed normal.

Pack shorts, she typed. Really hot here!

While she sat texting, Sydney heard the thump thump thump of music getting closer and closer. A green jeep raced around the corner, and the booming bass from its stereo echoed inside Sydney’s chest. In the passenger seat, Aunt Dee held on to her tan park ranger hat to keep it from flying off of her head. The jeep screeched to a halt in front of Sydney’s house, and her aunt hopped out.

“Thanks for the ride, Ben,” she yelled over the music. “See you tomorrow.”

The young driver waved and drove off.

Gotta go, Liz, Sydney wrote. Ant D’s home.

Sydney stood and wiped her feet on the grass. “You’re late again,” she said. “Mom’s mad.”

“I know,” Aunt Dee apologized. “There was trouble at the Wall.” She took off her ranger hat and perched it on Sydney’s head. Aunt Dee always blamed her lateness on her job at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. Sydney didn’t understand how she could be so enthusiastic about a long, black wall with a bunch of names carved onto it.

“So what was the trouble?” Sydney wondered.

“I’ll tell you at dinner,” said Aunt Dee. She linked her arm through Sydney’s. “It’s hot out here, girlfriend. Let’s go inside.”

By the time Sydney washed and sat at her place at the table, Mom and Aunt Dee were already eating. Sydney had learned at camp to pray before every meal. So, she bowed her head and said out loud, “Dear Lord, Make us truly grateful for this meal and for all the blessings of this day.” She noticed that her mom and Aunt Dee stopped eating and bowed their heads, too. “And please keep Dad safe,” she said. Sydney always added a blessing for her dad who was serving in the military overseas.

“Amen!” Mom and Aunt Dee chimed.

Sydney poured iced tea into her tall glass and scooped pasta salad onto her plate. “So, what happened at the Wall?” she asked, reaching for a piece of French bread.

“Someone spray painted the sidewalk last night,” Aunt Dee replied. “Graffiti.”

Sydney’s mom got that look on her face—the one where her forehead turned into wrinkled plastic wrap. “You mean vandalism,” she said. “I think it’s just terrible what kids do these days—”

“How do you know it was kids?” Sydney interrupted. Her mouth was full of creamy macaroni. “Kids aren’t the only ones who do bad stuff.”

“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” said Aunt Dee.

“Most times it is,” her mom argued. “Just look around our neighborhood,” She waved her hand toward the kitchen window. “Vandalism everywhere! Who do you think did all that? Not the adults. The kids don’t care about our community. Do they care that this neighborhood used to be a military camp to help slaves that escaped from the South? No! They just want to mess up the nice things that good folks worked so hard to build.” Sydney’s mother sighed and took a long drink of her iced tea.

Mrs. Lincoln worked at the local historical society, and she was very protective of the neighborhood and its landmarks. She liked to talk about how, in the old days, kids had manners and didn’t do anything wrong. Sydney hated it that her mom blamed everything on the kids in the neighborhood.

“There are good kids, too,” Sydney argued. “You don’t see my friends and me running around spray painting everything. Give us some credit!” She looked at her plate and pushed the rest of her pasta salad into a neat little pile. “We care what happens.”

“We don’t know who did it,” said Aunt Dee, trying to stop the argument. “Someone painted GO 64 in front of panel 30W—in orange paint. Ben and some other volunteers scrubbed it this morning. They’ll work on it again tonight when the air cools off some. They’re having a hard time cleaning it. Pass the bread, please.”

“What does GO 64 mean?” Sydney asked, handing her the basket of bread.

“That’s what we’re trying to figure out,” Aunt Dee answered. “We’re wondering if the number 64 is a clue to who did it. Ben said that in some rap music, 64 means a 1964 Chevrolet Impala. Another volunteer plays chess and said 64 is the number of squares on a chessboard. We don’t know what it means.”

“Maybe it’s Interstate 64,” Sydney’s mom suggested. “There’s construction on that freeway and plenty of orange construction cones. Maybe the orange paint is to protest all that.”

“But if it’s about the freeway, or a car, or a chessboard, why would they complain by painting graffiti at the Vietnam Wall? Besides, Interstate 64 is in Virginia,” Aunt Dee said.

“Yes, but there’s some military bases out that way,” Mother said. Then she added, “It’s probably just kids.”

The air conditioning kicked in again, and a cool draft shot from the air vent making the kitchen curtains flutter.

“The Wall’s lighted at night,” Sydney said. “And the Park Police keep an eye on all the monuments. So, why didn’t anyone see who did it?”

“The lights were out,” Aunt Dee reminded her. “The whole city went dark for a while, and the Park Police were busy with that. That’s when it happened, I’m sure. Anyway, it’s a mess, and we have to clean it up fast. The TV stations are already making a big deal out of it.” She dipped her knife into the butter container and slathered butter onto her French bread. “I had such an awful day at work. Everybody blamed everyone else for letting it happen. Like we would let it happen! People don’t know how hard the Park Service works—“

“May I be excused,” Sydney asked, swallowing her last bite of pasta.

“You may,” her mother answered.

Sydney put her dishes into the dishwasher. Then she went upstairs to her room.

The computer on Sydney’s desk was on, and her screensaver cast an eerie blue glow on her yellow bedroom walls. Syd’s bedroom had no windows, so it was always dark. That was the trouble with living in a row house. If your room was in the middle of the house, you had no windows. She flipped the switch on her desk light and tapped the spacebar on the computer. The monitor lit up, and Sydney noticed that McKenzie Phillips was online. She sent her an IM: Talk to me?

The phone icon on the computer screen jiggled back and forth. Sydney clicked on it, and McKenzie’s freckled face appeared. She was sitting at the work island in her family’s kitchen. “What’s up?” she asked.

Sydney turned on her web cam. “Not much,” she said. “I just finished dinner.”

“Me, too,” McKenzie replied. “Well, almost.” She held a slice of cheese pizza in front of her face so Sydney could see it. “We ate early because Dad and Evan have to drive some cattle to pasture. Then they want to practice for the rodeo this weekend.” She pointed to the blue baseball cap on her head. Its yellow letters said: Sulfur Springs Rodeo.

“I didn’t want to hang out downstairs,” Sydney told her. “Someone spray painted graffiti by the Vietnam Wall last night, and Mom blamed it on kids again.”

McKenzie took a bite out of her pizza. “I saw it on the news. Why did she blame it on kids? I mean, anyone could have done it.”

“She blames everything on kids,” Sydney answered. “I think it’s because a lot of the kids around here get into trouble. I try to tell her that we’re not all like that, but she doesn’t listen. Lately she doesn’t listen to anything I say.”

“My mom’s like that, too,” McKenzie said. “Nothing I do is ever right.” Her face lit up. “Hey, the news said it was orange paint, right?”

“Yeah,” Sydney said, fidgeting with her cornrows. “Orange graffiti that said GO 64. So what?”

“So, maybe it’s some crazy nutcase with Agent Orange.”

“Agent who?” Sydney asked.

“Agent Orange!” said McKenzie. “Agent Orange was a chemical they used in Vietnam. I read about it in school. It made some Vietnam soldiers really sick and some even died. So maybe it wasn’t a kid who wrote it. Maybe it’s a guy who got Agent Orange, who’s mad at the government, and wants to get even. By the way, I can’t see you well.”

“You think too much,” Sydney answered. She pulled her desk light closer to her computer and bent it toward her face. “They’re trying to figure out what GO 64 means. My aunt and mom think it could be about some sort of car, or highway, or maybe even a chessboard—“

“A chessboard!” McKenzie screeched. “A person who plays chess won’t spray paint a national monument.”

“I know,” Sydney said. “Some gang member probably wrote it. Anyhow, I don’t care. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”

“I can see you fine now,” McKenzie said, changing the subject. “So, when is Elizabeth coming?”

“She and her Uncle Dan are flying in from Texas tomorrow,” Sydney answered. “Aunt Dee and I are going pick them up at the airport at four. We’ll take her uncle to his hotel, and then Elizabeth will come here to stay with us.”

“Can Elizabeth’s Uncle Dan get around all by himself?” McKenzie asked. She twisted a strand of her shoulder-length hair around her fingers. “I mean, he’s in a wheelchair and everything.”

“As far as I know, he can,” Sydney answered. “Elizabeth said he plays wheelchair basketball and competes in wheelchair races, so I suppose he gets around just fine by himself. I’m sure once he gets to the hotel, his Vietnam buddies will help him out if he needs help.”

McKenzie reached for a gallon milk container on the kitchen counter. She poured herself a glass. “Well, at least you and Elizabeth don’t have to hang around with him the whole time. He’ll be busy with his reunion stuff, right?”

“Right,” Sydney agreed. “We’ll see him Monday at the Vietnam Wall. Aunt Dee wants to give him the tour, and she thinks that Elizabeth and I should be there. Otherwise, we’re on our own.” Sydney heard strange sounds coming from her computer speakers. “Is that mooing?” she asked.

“Can you hear it?” said McKenzie. “That’s Olivia, our old milk cow. About this time every day, she wanders up to the kitchen window and talks to us. I’ll move the camera, and you can see her.”

McKenzie’s face disappeared from the screen. Sydney watched her friend’s bare feet move across the kitchen floor as she carried the web cam to the window. Then a big, black-and-white cow head appeared. Olivia stood chewing her cud and looking at Sydney with huge, brown eyes.

“Earth to Mac! Earth to Mac!” Sydney called into her computer’s microphone. “Come back Mac!”

Sydney watched McKenzie’s bare feet walk back to the computer. Then her face showed up on the screen.

“Isn’t Olivia awesome?” she said. “You really should come to Montana, Syd. We have tons of animals. I know you’d love it, and we could ride horses and hike, just like we did at camp.”

“Maybe I will some day,” Sydney replied. “But, right now, I’m signing off. I want to clean up my room before Elizabeth gets here from Texas. All of my junk is piled on the other bed. If I don’t move it she won’t have a place to sleep.”

“Okay then,” McKenzie said. “I’ll sign off, too—and eat more pizza.” She picked up the gooey slice from her plate and took another bite. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“See ya,” Sydney answered, switching off her web cam.

Everything in her room looked neat except for the other twin bed. It was hardly ever used, so that was where Sydney stored most of her stuff. It held boxes filled with colorful papers and art materials, magazines, piles of clothes, posters she planned to put up in her room. Sydney had so much stuff stored there that she didn’t know what to do with it all. Under my bed, I guess, she thought.

Before long, the bed was cleaned. Sydney changed the sheets. Then she went to her closet and pulled out a new black and tan bedspread that matched her own. She threw it on top of the bed and tucked it neatly around the pillow.

“Sydney?” Aunt Dee stood in the doorway. She held a long, white envelope. “This came for you.”

The letter was from Elizabeth. Sydney tore open the flap and found a note taped to an information sheet.

Uncle Dan wanted me to send you this so your mom can keep track of him. Just in case of an emergency. It’s his reunion schedule.

Sydney Lincoln read the heading on the sheet of paper. It said, “Annual Reunion—64th Transportation Company, Vietnam.”

My Thoughts
Sydney's DC Discovery by Jean Fischer, 2nd book in the Camp Club Girls series, is an improvement over book one. I thought the historical aspects were woven into the story well and I liked the way the author explained terms she thought might be unfamiliar to the reader. We learned a little more about the girls, also. I still think the series is using too many coincidences to drive the plot. The girls have little to no conflict that isn't easily overcome. And similar to book one, I feel the scriptures are just thrown in but at least this book had less of them.

One bothersome aspect comes once in a while as you are reading; you come across words that seem more adult-like, not what someone aged 11/12 would say -

"Girl, you don't see the forest for the trees," (p.69)
"We're not talking about some common thugs here, Elizabeth." (p.73)

Plus there's a point where some FBI agents allow Sydney to take a risk that seems very unrealistic. Sydney's DC Discovery is entertaining though and such a light read that I would offer it here in the library. I give it 2 copies.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blog Tour - Camp Club Girls and the Mystery at Discovery Lake by Renae Brumbaugh

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Camp Club Girls & the Mystery at Discovery Lake

Barbour Books (January 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Books for sending me a review copy.***


Renae Brumbaugh lives in Texas with her pastor husband, two noisy children, and two dogs. She's authored four books in Barbour’s Camp Club Girls’ series, and Morning Coffee with James (Chalice Press), and has contributed to several anthologies. Her humor column and articles have appeared in publications across the country.

Visit the Camp Club Girl's website.
Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $5.97
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (January 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602602670
ISBN-13: 978-1602602670


Chapter One

“Shhhhhhh!” Sydney told Bailey. “What was that noise?”

“What noise?” asked Bailey.

“Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” commanded her new friend.

The two listened with all their focused energy. Then, there it was. Footsteps. Large, heavy footsteps.

The girls stood in terrified uncertainty.


Sydney gasped as the eerie shriek filled the air.

Yahahoho ho ho!

Bailey trembled uncontrollably as the crazy, unworldly laugh followed.

“Run!” Sydney screamed. The two dashed as fast as their legs could carry them, back toward the camp. Sydney stopped twice, waiting for Bailey’s shorter legs to catch up.


Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth sat in the middle of the dusty road, trying to cram her underwear back into her suitcase before anyone saw. I thought wheels were supposed to make a suitcase easier, she thought. Instead, the rolling blue luggage had tipped over three times before it finally popped open, leaving her belongings strewn in the street.

Suddenly, she was nearly barreled over by two girls running frantically. “Run for your life!” the smaller one cried. “It’s after us!”

“Whoa, calm down,” Elizabeth focused on the terrified girls.

The taller one panted. “Something’s back there!”

Elizabeth looked toward the golf course but saw nothing. She noticed that the smaller girl seemed to struggle for air, and her protective instincts took over. “Calm down. You’ll be okay.”

“Need. . .inhaler,” gasped the girl.

Elizabeth sprang into action, digging through the girl’s backpack until she found a small blue inhaler. Then she helped hold it steady while the slight girl gasped in the medication. The taller girl kept looking toward the miniature golf course they’d just left. “Sorry,” the small girl whispered. “I’m supposed to keep that in my pocket, but I got so excited I forgot.”

“I’m Elizabeth. Why don’t you tell me what happened.”

“I’m Bailey,” said the short, dark-haired girl. “Bailey Chang.”

“And I’m Sydney Lincoln,” said the tall, dark-skinned girl with beaded braids. “We were at the golf course, and. . .and. . .”

“And something came after us!” exclaimed Bailey.

Elizabeth looked skeptical as she tucked a strand of long blond hair into the clip at the base of her neck.

“Is this your first year here? This is my third year here, and the most dangerous thing I’ve seen is a skunk.”

The girls giggled but didn’t look convinced. “Come with us. We’ll show you.” Bailey pulled Elizabeth back toward the golf course.

“I thought you were afraid of whatever it was! Why do you want to go back there?” Elizabeth asked.

The young girl stood to her full height. “Because I am going to be a professional golfer. And I’m not going to let whatever that was bully me. I plan to practice my golf strokes while I’m here.”

“Will you tell me exactly what happened?” Elizabeth asked Sydney.

Sydney looked each girl in the eye and spoke slowly. “Something or someone is in the woods by the golf course. And it wasn’t a friendly.” She paused for dramatic effect. “And. . .it came after us.”


Kate Oliver leaned back on her bed and smiled. Yes! I got the bed by the window! she thought. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get good reception for my laptop and cell phone. She tucked a strand of blond hair behind her ear. It was too short to stay there, and just long enough to drive her crazy.

Bam! The cabin’s outer door slammed, and Kate heard voices. Pushing her black-framed glasses up on her nose, she sat up. Two girls entered the room, giggling and talking.

“I can’t believe I’m finally here! This is so cool. And look at this cute little dorm room! It’s just like the cabin in The Parent Trap! Oh, hello!” The fun-looking brunette with piercing blue eyes greeted Kate. “I’m Alex Howell. Alexis, really, but nobody calls me that except my mother. I am so excited! This will be the best two weeks ever!”

Kate smiled and reached to shake the girl’s hand. “Kate Oliver,” she said. “Welcome to cabin 12B.” She looked at the other girl.

The girl’s freckles matched her curly auburn hair, and she offered a friendly smile. “Hi there. I’m McKenzie Phillips.”


The two girls looked at Elizabeth stubbornly, as if needing to prove their story to her. Hearing another bus pull up, Elizabeth remembered her belongings, which were still lying in the middle of the road.

“I’ll tell you what. You help me get this awful suitcase to cabin 12B, and then I’ll walk to the golf course with you. Deal?”

Bailey’s mouth dropped open, and Sydney’s eyes widened.

“You’re in cabin 12B?” asked Sydney.

“That’s our cabin!” exclaimed Bailey.

Now it was Elizabeth’s turn to be surprised. “You’re kidding! Wow. It is a small world. Okay, roomies, help me hide my underwear before the entire camp sees, and we’ll be on our way.”

The girls gathered the strewn articles of clothing. Bailey held up one particular article of clothing and giggled. “Tinkerbell? Seriously, you have Tinkerbell on your . . .”

Elizabeth snatched the unmentionables from Bailey, crammed them in her suitcase, and snapped it shut. “Not another word, shorty!” Elizabeth scolded, but with a twinkle in her eye. The three girls chattered all the way to cabin 12B. As they approached the cabin, the two younger girls pulled their luggage out from behind some bushes.

“We sat together on the bus from the airport, and we both wanted to see the golf course before we did anything else. So we stowed our suitcases here until we got back,” explained Sydney.

Elizabeth laughed. With these two as roommates, this year’s camp experience would be far from dull.

The girls entered the cabin and located room B to the right. Three girls were already there, smiling and laughing.

“Hello, I’m Elizabeth. I guess we’ll be roommates!” She tossed her things on the lower bunk closest to the door, and Sydney placed her things on the bunk above that. Bailey took the top bunk next to Sydney. After an awkward pause, McKenzie stepped forward.

“I’m McKenzie Phillips,” she said. “I’m thirteen, and I’m from White Sulphur Springs, Montana.”

Alex bounced forward. “I’m Alexis Howell, Alex for short. I’m twelve, and I’m from Sacramento.”

“Sydney. Twelve. Washington, D.C.”

“Oh, that is so cool. Do you know the president?” asked Bailey, and everyone laughed. “I’m Bailey Chang. I’m nine, and I’m from Peoria, Illinois. And just so you’ll all know, I plan to be the next Tiger Woods. I’ll be glad to sign autographs, if you want. They’ll be worth money some day.”

Elizabeth stepped forward. “I’ll take one, Bailey. I’ll sell it and use the money for college. I’m Elizabeth Anderson, fourteen, from Amarillo, Texas.”

“Well, I guess that leaves me,” said Kate. “Kate Oliver, eleven, Philadelphia.”

Alexis jumped up and down. “Oh, this will be so much fun! Kate brought her laptop with her. I have the coolest roommates ever!”

Everyone’s attention turned to Kate’s bed, which was covered with a laptop and several small gadgets. “What is all that stuff?” asked Sydney. The girls gathered around Kate’s bed and watched her pull items out of a black backpack.

“It’s like a magician’s bag. It has no bottom,” mused McKenzie.

Kate laughed. “My dad teaches robotics at Penn State, so he’s always bringing home little devices to test out. Some of them are really helpful. Some of them are just fun to play with.”

One by one, she pulled the oddly shaped gadgets out of her bag, describing the functions of each.

“This is my cell phone. It can take pictures and short video clips, has a GPS tracker, a satellite map, Internet access, a motion sensor, a voice recorder, and about a zillion other things!” Aiming it at the others, she said, “Say cheese!”

The other girls leaned together and smiled. “Cheeeeeeeeeeeeese!”

Kate saved the picture, then passed the phone to the others and dug through her backpack again. “This digital recorder can record conversations up to thirty feet away.”

Sydney squinted her eyes. “You’re kidding! That thing is the size of a contact lens! Let me see!” Kate handed her the recorder and kept digging.

“This is a reader,” she continued, holding up a small penlike device.

“A what?” asked McKenzie.

“A reader. You run it across words on a page, and it records them to memory. Like a small scanner.”

“That is so cool! I had no idea stuff like this existed!” McKenzie examined the reader.

“Here, I have my Bible. Will you show us how the reader works?” Elizabeth grabbed a worn Bible from her bag and handed it to Kate.

“Sure. You turn it on by pressing this button, and. . .” She ran the pen over a page in Psalms.

Elizabeth giggled. “I’ve heard of hiding God’s Word in your heart, but never in your pen!”

The gadget girl suddenly stopped her display to announce, “Hey, I’m starved. Is anybody else hungry?”

“It’s almost dinnertime,” announced Elizabeth. “But first, we have some business to take care of at the golf course.”

The girls listened as Sydney and Bailey described their experience.

“Whoa, cool!” exclaimed Alex. “We have a mystery on our hands! Why don’t we go right now and check it out?”

“Why don’t we eat first?” called out Kate. “Starving girl here, remember?” The others laughed at the petite girl whose stomach was growling loudly.

Since it was almost dinnertime, the group decided to head to the dining hall first. Bailey led the way, taking over as tour guide.

“Wait for me,” called Alex. “I need to grab my lip gloss!” She shoved strawberry Lip Smackers into her pocket.

The group wandered through the camp, with Bailey pointing out different sites. Suddenly, she stopped. “Well, guys, I hate to tell you this. . .but I have no idea how to get to the dining hall from here.”

“It’s this way,” stated Elizabeth. “You’ll get your bearings. My first year here, it took me the whole time before I could find my way around. But I get lost in a closet.”

McKenzie spoke up. “Come on, girls, let’s go. Remember, Kate’s about to starve. We wouldn’t want her to waste away to nothing.”

Everyone laughed at Kate, who pretended to be nearly fainting. “I need sustenance, and I need it now!”

The group arrived at the dining hall with seven minutes to spare. They stood near the front of the line, and Elizabeth said, “Get ready for a long meal. The camp director will explain all the camp rules, introduce the counselors, and tell us more than we want to know about Camp Discovery Lake.”

“Terrific.” Bailey sighed. “I wanted to visit the golf course before dark.”

“Don’t worry,” said Alex. “After the story you and Sydney told, I think we all want to find out what’s down there.”

“Really?” Bailey said. “You’ll all come?”

“You bet!” said McKenzie. “The girls of cabin 12B stick together!”


The sun was dipping behind the horizon by the time the girls left the dining hall.

“Hooray! We can finally go to the golf course!” Bailey called.

“We’d better hurry. It’s getting dark,” said Elizabeth.

“Yeah, and after the story you and Sydney told, I certainly don’t want to be there after dark,” added Kate.

The girls scurried while chattering about the different camp activities they wanted to try. Before they knew it, the sun was gone and they could barely see the road. “Why is the golf course so far away from the main camp?” asked Alex nervously.

Sydney laughed. “So nobody will get hit on the head with a stray golf ball!”

Suddenly, a voice called out from the woods.

“Who? Who? Who?”

“What was that?” whispered Bailey.

“Who?” came the voice again.

McKenzie giggled. “You city girls don’t know much about the country, do you? That was an owl!”

The others burst into laughter as the voice called again, “Who?”

“I’m Sydney! Who are you?” Sydney shouted, and the laughter continued.

“It sure does get dark here, doesn’t it?” said Kate. “It never gets this dark in the city.”

“Are we close to the golf course?” asked Alex.

“It doesn’t seem nearly as far in the daytime,” Elizabeth told her.

They continued, each trying to seem brave. The trees that had seemed friendly and protecting in the daytime now loomed like angry giants. The girls’ steps became slower and slower as they struggled to see where they were stepping.

Finally, Kate stopped and looked at the sky through the trees. “Look, everybody! It’s the Big Dipper!” The other five girls looked to where she pointed.

“Wow, the sky is beautiful. It’s so dark, and the stars are so bright,” whispered Sydney.

“The stars are never this bright in Sacramento,” Alex commented. “The city lights are brighter. Hey, this reminds me of an episode of Charlie’s Angels, where the Angels’ car broke down in the middle of nowhere, and they had to use the stars to find their way home.”

The girls were so focused on the sky that they didn’t notice the image moving toward them. Kate was the first to lower her eyes, and she blinked in confusion. Adjusting her eyeglasses, she whispered, “Uh, guys?”

The girls continued pointing out the brightest stars.

Kate tried to make her voice louder, but terror kept it to a soft squeak. “G–g–guys?” The image moved closer, but still, no one heard her. Finally, Kate grabbed Sydney’s sleeve. “Wh–wh–what is that?” she squeaked.

Sydney looked. “Oh, my word! What in the world is that?”

The girls saw a white stripe in the road, moving slowly, steadily toward them. They were frozen, until Elizabeth yelled, “Skunk!”

Camp Discovery Lake resounded with shrieks and squeals as the girls ran back toward the cabins. McKenzie led the way with Alex close on her heels.

The girls didn’t slow down until they had burst through the door of cabin 12B. Falling onto the beds, they panted, then soon began giggling.

“Can you believe it? A skunk! We were scared of a little bitty skunk!” howled McKenzie.

“I don’t know about you, McKenzie, but I wasn’t about to smell like Pepe Le Pew out there!” retorted Alex, and the girls laughed even harder.

“Hey, Sydney, is that what scared you today? Some forest creature?”

Sydney and Bailey stopped giggling and looked at one another. “No,” they replied.

“Whatever we heard was not small,” said Bailey. “And it wasn’t friendly.”

“And it definitely came after us,” added Sydney.

My Thoughts
Although I think the Camp Club Girls idea has potential there were too many coincidences used to move the plot ahead. The girls all immediately became friends and one of them had a backpack full of spy equipment. The dog they found was never discovered by anyone else even though he howled and messed up their room. The girls were even able to catch their arch-nemesis crying over people expecting her to be perfect because her father's a minister. ( As a preacher's kid myself, I don't feel that was the entirely realistic.) The girls were able to sneak around the camp without getting caught and found every piece of evidence they needed. I also felt the scriptures were inserted into the story instead of being a part of the story.

All said, I give it 0 copies. Now, I'm hoping it was just this particular book that has issues. This is a planned 24-book series with a variety of authors. I'll be reading Sydney's DC Discovery in the hopes that the series improves.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Saturday Stories kit by Lien