Sunday, July 31, 2011

Remember Me by Cheryl Robinson - Blog Tour and Giveaways

Robinson, Cheryl. New American Library, 2011. $15.00. 400p. 978-0-4512-3338-7. (ARC reviewed was 508p)

Mia Marks-Glitch has always wanted two things: to be married and to be well off.  She finally has what she wants, so why isn't she happy? Danielle King has always wanted to be a writer. She wants to escape an oppressive life with her bigoted family and she will never look back.  She has all the success she's wanted.  What's wrong with her life?

When Alexandra Glitch and Tiffany Allen became roommates in college, they never knew their mothers were once best friends.  It takes an accident on the way back for the long story to come tumbling out.

Cheryl Robinson uses alternating chapters of flashbacks and present day to reveal Mia and Danielle's falling out.  The chapters also switch between the younger Mia and younger Danielle as well as their older counterparts.  The changes happen at each chapter and are noted by dates at the top.  It's still a little confusing.  I found this read more like a series of barely connected short stories. This kept me from getting to know any of  the characters well.  Consequently, I never bought Mia's anger over Danielle's or Frank's betrayal because I never cared for any of the characters. The constant switching seemed to slow the plotting down and made the story drag for me. Those things kept me from enjoying Remember Me as a whole but in parts this epic story of 30 years of relationships had it's moments.

For another side of the story, check out Book Club Classics take on Remember Me.

For You - Your own copy of Remember Me by Cheryl Robinson.  Comment with your email address.  US/Canada entries only.  Comments taken until August 7, 2011, 11:59pm.

For Your Book Club - OPENS SEPT. 1
Win 10 copies of Remember Me in September!  You would also win a Skype or phone chat with Cheryl, plus a gorgeous red velvet cake from Daisy Cakes (

Book Club of the Month Giveaway - Opens September 1st!

Cheryl Robinson Facebook
Cheryl Robinson Blog

TLC Tour Dates for Remember Me by Cheryl Robinson

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Penguin Books for this ARC.

The Sunday Salon - Bookaday to Date - July 2011

This is my second year participating in The Book Whisperer's Bookaday challenge. My goal is to end the summer having read 72 books.

June 5 - June 25, 2011 - 21 days, 27 books
June 26 - July 31, 2011 - 36 days, 35 books

So far I've read 62 books in 57 days! I have 15 days left and my mind has already turned to all the things I need to read and write before school starts! Freaking out!!!!

4 Middle Grade
True...Sort of by Katherine Hannigan
Sources of Light by Margaret McMullan
The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow
Crunch by Leslie Connor
27 Young Adult
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford
The New Policeman by Kate Thompson
Blindsided by Priscilla Cumming 
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan
The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima
Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
Ancient, Strange, and Lovely by Susan Fletcher
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Hourglass by Myra McEntire
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
Sass and Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler
Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising by Jason Henderson
Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead by Jason Henderson
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti
Karma by Cathy Ostlere
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Supernaturally by Kiersten White
Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

4 Adult
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
The Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert
Remember Me by Cheryl Robinson

Totals So Far
12 Middle Grade - Favorite - Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
41 Young Adult - Favorite - Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick
9 Adult - Favorite - The Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

How are you doing on your challenge?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nickel Plated by Aric Davis - Bookaday #24

Davis, Aric. Nickel Plated. AmazonEncore, 2011. $9.95. 172p. 978-1-9355-9732-2

Nickel is this twelve year-old kid who lives on his own and solves problems for people. He was raised in foster care and his last placement went so horribly wrong that he barely escaped with his life. He's determined never to return to foster care. He's built quite a reputation, and a life, for himself. He knows how to fight and how to stay under the radar. He's computer savvy and put's his life on the line for what he believes in. He just wants to make the bad guys pay.

Aric Davis writes Nickel like an old-fashioned hard-boiled Sam Spadish detective. He's all "babe" this and chews on a matchstick. Typical. Davis tells us a lot about Nickel without just letting us get to know him through his actions. Arrow, a 14 year-old who hires Nickel, was also a very flat character. You don't really feel any sort of connection to either of them.

But, that said, I was sucked into the story. As Nickel searches for the missing 11 year-old Shelby, I was right there with him. He uses his background in foster care to help him look for clues. Now, there were quite a few situations that I didn't think a 12 year-old could have handled but if you've been on your own and had such a terrible life, maybe that forces you to grow up faster than normal, I don't know. Davis ties Nickel's three cases together, the major one with Shelby and the two other cases with Jeff, whose mother thinks his girlfriend is leading him down the wrong path, and Veronica, who wants him to launder money. Nickel does a few things that are not legal. I think we could have left the weed growing out - "I figure it's not really hurting anybody." Overall, I liked Nickel Plated but it wouldn't be one I would hand to students. I think The Adventures of Jack Lime would be a better choice. It also has a young character who is a detective but Jack is in high school, which is a little more believable.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back to School (Almost)

English Acad Superbowl practice
Three weeks from today. August 17, 2011. That's the day I'm going back to work full-time. I'll be in out for the next two weeks getting things in shape.
Some stuff I'll be working on:
  • Finish re-shelving fiction and box up the items to be weeded
  • List the potential weeds and send to board for approval
  • Create signage to further help students know the library
  • Design a new orientation for all students
  • Create calendar
  • Start inputting student home rooms into Alexandria
  • Delete students who are not returning
  • Take care of two months of mail!!!
  • Shelve books that arrived over break
  • Any last minute purchases
  • Wall, window, and shelf displays
WDMS studio
I'm also teaching one School News class. This will be my second year and it was pretty difficult last yea.r   I want to work on my lesson plans and tweak some of the video assignments to add in levels of difficulty.  I'm also hoping to get an intern from the high school's news class!

Also working on:
  • One Book, One School - choosing the committee and the book
  • Mock Newbery Book Club - setting the dates and ordering the books
  • How to help when I'm not around to help
Most importantly, the library needs a complete overhaul in both its design and its programming.  I want to put us on the road to The National School Library Program and start raising money for a new look. 

What are you doing to get ready for "back to school"?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Voice of the Undead by Jason Henderson - Review

Henderson, Jason. Voice of the Undead (Alex van Helsing, 2). HarperTeen, 2011. 16.99. 304p. 978-0-0619-5101-5.

Alex is finally training with the Polidorium, that CIA-like super funded group of evil fighters, and he feels like he's found where he belongs.  Unfortunately, Scholomance, the vampire training school, wants Alex dead.  They've sent the crazy blond, Elle, to bring him down and she's pulling out all the stops.  Whatever wild worm-like creature she set on him leads to him burning down his school, Glenarvon!  All the boys have to move to the girl school, LaLaurie.  Which is not so bad because they go to class with Minhi!

Yes, they are all back! Minhi, the ju-jitsu expert who saved Alex from a beatdown with bullies Bill and Steve, Paul, one of Alex's roomies who he rescued from Scholomance, and Sid, Alex's other roomie, vampire lore expert, and future writer.  The only problem: Minhi is dating Paul!   Okay, now back to the story.

The Polidorium is convinced that Scholomance wants Alex dead.  The buzz is that someone called Ultravox is coming in to do the job and they want Alex to get to Ultravox first.  Things, of course, do not go as planned! Alex gets too cocky and they kidnap him! He finds out the real reason Ultravox is here and he has to figure out how to get back and warn everyone.

Voice of the Undead is a fast-paced, action-packed caper.  Alex is in and out of trouble faster than you can say Vampire Rising.  There isn't much character development, Alex is too busy surviving to reflect on anything, but the mishaps keep the story moving forward.  Henderson takes a risk setting the story only one month after book one as not much has happened in that short time period. That allows Voice of the Undead to stand alone, though.  The writing here is uneven and seems to jump around instead of flowing from point to point.  Still, I can see students enjoying this one.  Alex has some cool gadgets and rides a motorcycle. There isn't much he's afraid of and he's got great friends to back him up.  This series is worth purchasing.

Thanks to Kelley and Hall Book Publicity for this ARC.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Are You My Newbery? - July 2011

I'll be working over at SJCPL Mock Newbery blog today. Stop by and add your comments to some of these promising titles. What books are on your list? Add them to this Gearing Up post!

So far, I like
Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt
True.. Sort of by Katherine Hannigan
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lo
Hidden by Helen Frost
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Sunday Salon - The Possibilities of Hair

I have always had short hair. Always. When I was a kid, I used to wear a scarf on my head all the time. Except for picture day. It was the one day my mother made me leave the house without it. I cried the whole time. I had something called Trichotillomania. I mostly pulled from the right side of my head and sucked the middle two fingers of my left hand. So I had bald patches, hand calluses and these huge bucked teeth.  So big I could not close my mouth.  Really.  And unless I wore dress, and sometimes even then, you could not tell me apart from my brothers. My mom also straightened our hair with a stove top hot comb.  And later, I either straightened it with a hot comb or with a relaxer.  Memories.

As an adult I would waver between my natural hair and relaxed hair.  Either way my hair would start growing and then, not.  I would never even cover my ears. I really didn't care so much because short hair is easy!  But, lately, I feel like I want some sort of change. For the last two years, I've worn my hair in varying stages of two-strand twists. When I do this, keeping my hair protected and moisturized, the hair shows growth.  But, I am lazy.  So the hair would get matted and I would get out my clippers.

 This year, I am vowing to let it grow! I've been reading some forums on Naturally Curly and watching videos on youtube, especially Naptural 85 and following the Newly Natural blog.  I'd also tried some books, but most of them were too general.  My hair is soooo kinky and it breaks so easily, I need some products and tips that are specific to my type.  So, this summer,  I did not cut my hair off.  No, it's not long, but for once, it's healthy!! I've been co-conditioning and conditioning it and keeping it covered at night.  I also try to keep it twisted more often which is a chore because it takes about 2 hours to do it right! It's a serious learning process and I'm determined to see it through!  I'm still looking for the right mixture of products, so if you have some tips, let me know!
Also, I need some new glasses!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater - Bookaday #19

Stiefvater, Maggie. Linger (Wolves of Mercy Falls, 2). Scholastic Press, 2010. 17.99. 369p. 978-0-5451-2328-0

If you haven't read Shiver, Do Not LINGER here!

Those Mercy Falls wolves are calling and each character is having a different reaction!
Grace's body is falling apart from not being able to answer the wolves' call.  Every cold gust of wind and every howl has Sam tensing up. Then he remembers he's cured. If only he could help grace.  Cole LONGS to be a wolf. To hide. To be free of the pressures of being himself.  And Isabelle, she just feels so alone.  Each howl remind her of Jack's death, that she caused.

The turmoil caused by the wolves leads to Grace's fight with her parents and her subsequent moving in with Sam and Cole.  But this does not help as much as they had hoped. "I never knew there were so many kinds of love or that love could make people do so many different things."

Forever can't come soon enough.

Friday, July 22, 2011

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel - Bookaday #21

Oppel, Kenneth. This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein. Simon and Schuster, 2011. 17.99. 304p. 978-1-4424-0315-4

15-year-old Victor Frankenstein is ambitious and passionate and want to make his mark. His identical twin, Konrad, is compassionate and gentle and wants to make sure everyone else is happy. Everyone loves Konrad and sometimes, this really gets on Victor’s nerves. When Konrad falls ill, Victor is determined that he will be the one to save him. He descends to the forbidden Dark Library and searches out the elusive and disgraced alchemist, Julius Polidari. With the help of Elizabeth, a very distant cousin who grew up with the boys, and Henry, a neighbor who’s father is always away on business, Victor sets out to find the three dangerous but needed ingredients to make the potion that will surely save Konrad’s life. And exalt Victor’s.

Taking his cue from the novel Frankenstein but changing a few details including the ages of Frankenstein’s younger brothers and introducing us to a twin brother, Oppel creates an original tale to explain why Victor Frankenstein may have created his monster. This identical brother is everything Victor despises but also wants to be. This jealousy over someone who looks exactly like him, but is so much “better” leads Victor down his dark path. He wants what Konrad has, including his girlfriend, but at the same time, Victor despises himself for feeling this way towards his brother. It's these conflicting emotions that drive the book. But Oppel also includes lots of action! Victor and crew fight animals and nature to get the rare ingredients needed to heal Konrad. I think this book will appeal to anyone who likes a good mystery as well as suspense and surprises. The tension increases the more you read which makes you simultaneously want to stop reading and wanting to rush the end. Clear your schedule and sit down with this one. I can only hope there will be a sequel!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sass and Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler - Guest Post and Giveaway

Sass and Serendipity
Jennifer Ziegler Website - Jennifer Ziegler Blog
Delacorte Books for Young Readers/2011

A Story that’s “Austensibly” Romantic

My new book, Sass & Serendipity is loosely based on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Because of this, it has been referred to in the media as a “romance.” But is it? Maybe. Sorta. It’s difficult to say. How does one distill any novel – with all of its various characters, conflicts, moods and themes – into one word?

As the title implies, Sass & Serendipity is dichotomous by nature, so I’ve resisted calling the novel a romance. To me that would imply that the main plot revolves around two characters falling for each other, and my story’s major focus is on two sisters. Yet I must acknowledge that the romantic subplots are what hold everything together. It is each girl’s pursuit of (or retreat from) love that allows her to better understand and love her sibling.

Gabby is the elder of the Rivera sisters. She habitually says she doesn’t believe in love and thinks it’s an excuse young people use to go crazy. Meanwhile, Daphne, the younger sis, craves love. And not just any love, but true love. Epic love. The love of fairy tales, romance novels, and classic ballads.

On the surface, Gabby appears to be the stronger of the two. She works hard, makes excellent grades, resists peer pressure, and keeps her emotions in check. Daphne, on the other hand, is impulsive and forgetful, and will break rules and forego all responsibilities to be with the boy she adores. Each girl makes choices that lead to tumultuous results, and end up reexamining their views on love. At the same time, readers might find themselves reconsidering their initial perceptions of the sisters.

Let’s face it – showing deep feelings for someone is a risk. It leaves you open to extreme joy, but also extreme hurt. Yet in a way, there’s always a gain, because taking such chances, no matter how it turns out, can’t help but bring self-knowledge and growth. Thus, the tough-talking, hardened sister really isn’t the strong one here. Daphne may be young and starry-eyed, but she’s willing to make herself vulnerable in her quest for true love. That takes courage. And Gabby, with all of her emotional shielding, is revealed to be the more scared and sensitive of the two.

I work romantic elements into my stories because such events are a significant part of the teen experience, as well as life in general. Even if the main story has nothing to do with passionate love, a romance-centered B-plot can relieve tension, round out characters, and create conflict that leads to personal growth. People learn from people, and the deeper the feelings they have for each other, the bigger the stakes and potential pay-off.

So let my book be called a romance. It might not be a love story in the traditional sense, but it is a story about love.

A Sassy Giveaway

Sass and Serendipity

Sense and Sensibility
Three lucky winners will each receive one copy of Jennifer Ziegler's SASS & SERENDIPITY along with Jane Austen's classic, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.

To enter, send an e-mail to

In the body of the e-mail, include your name, mailing address, and e-mail address (if you're under 13, submit a parent's name and e-mail address).

One entry per person; prizes will only be shipped to US or Canadian addresses.Entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on 8/5/11. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on 8/6/11 and notified via email.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

January by Gabrielle Lord - Bookaday #18

Lord, Gabrielle.January (Conspiracy 365). Kane/Miller, 2010. 12.99. 192p. 978-1-9352-7949-5

I'm still searching for a book for our next One Book, One School program and this one was recommned to me by a student.  You meet Cal who is going on a boat trip with his uncle.  He doesn't think the weather is all that great and tries to warn said uncle to no avail.  A storm comes in and the two would have drowned if it wasn't for Cal's quick wits.  That's just the beginning of the scrapes Cal gets into.  A crazy guys tells him he's got 1 year (365 days...) to live if he doesn't solve this Ormond Conspiracy and Cal's like WHAT? Sure enough strange people start hunting him down and he's being framed for a weird accident that puts his sister in the hospital.  He only has one friend who's willing to also risk his life to help Cal out. But they don't seem to be getting anywhere and the stakes, they just keep on raising.

This one is filled with suspense and action and impossible situations.  But, it makes for compelling reading.  I will definitely try to get it for the the library, but I don't think it will have a broad enough appeal for One Book, One School. It's separated into 12 books so I know Cal at least makes it to December, if not January of the following year You do have to order these books from Usborne.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card - Bookaday #17

Card, Orson Scott. The Pathfinder. Simon Pulse, 2010. 18.99. 657p. 978-1-4169-9176-2

All of his life, Rigg has believed he was an only child. That his gift was one of a kind. That his father, was his father alone. His father had homeschooled Rigg. He taught him about the world, about trading, about life. The day Father died, he told Rigg to find his Mother and his sister. Was everything Father ever taught him a lie?

Rigg and his best friend, Umbo, set out to find Rigg's family and, hopefully, uncover the true story of Rigg's life.  The Pathfinder includes time travel, a little romance, lots of adventure and science fiction.  It's two stories in one.  We follow Rigg as we recovers his history and we follow Ram as he creates it.  I did a combo audio and book on this one because it was involved and very fascinating.  It's book one in a series and book 2, Ruins, is set to be released March 2012.  Can't come soon enough!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Sunday Salon - Diversify Your Reading Challenge

Coretta Scott King 2011

Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo have issued a challenge on their wonderful site, Diversity in YA.  They challenge readers/librarians/bloggers to diversify their reading by incorporating more books by and/or about people of color or books by and/or about LGBT into their reading lives. 

I spend a lot of time reading about other cultures (looking through the window of literature) and want to spend more time reading young adult and middle grade literature that feature my own culture (looking in the mirror).

John Steptoe 2011
There are many awards for literature out there but the major players for books intended for youths come from the American Library Association (ALA). The two I'm most familiar with are the Newbery Award given to outstanding American literature intended for children ages birth - 14 and the Printz Award given to outstanding literature intended for young adults aged 12 - 18.

These two awards have many "Mock" blogs  and Goodreads groups where people try to discern the next winner before the committees make their announcements. I've participated in both Mock Printz and Mock Newbery clubs over the past years.

What does this have to do with Diversity in YA you say?

Did you know that the ALA also administers two major book awards for African-American literature for youth? The Coretta Scott King (CSK) Award is given for outstanding depiction of the 'black experience' by African-American authors and illustrators while The John Steptoe (JS) Award for New Talent, sponsored by the CSK committee, is given for outstanding first works by African-American authors and illustrators

I have found only two blogs that focus on the "Mock" Coretta Scott King Award:
Allen County Public Library Mock Coretta Scott King Award - does both Author and Illustrator awards
Black Threads in Kid's Lit - does more than the Mock CSK author and illustrator

I've decided that I will start blogging the Mock Coretta Scott King author award and the Mock John Steptoe Award for New Talent author award. This will be my official focus starting in January 2012.

In the meantime, I will read and review the past 5 years, 2007 -2011, of author and honor books for both awards.  Then I will write about my thoughts for the Diversify Your Reading Challenge. I will also include a page at the top for the books I will be reading for both this challenge and, eventually, the Mock CSK and JS.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu - Bookaday #16

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins Children
September 2011/ARC

"It would just be like she was a leper, and leprosy really wasn't so bad once you made it part of your routine."

"They were plastic flowers of words -- but they looked nice on the surface."

"This is what it is to live in the world. You have to give yourself over to the cold, at least a little bit."

Hazel’s parents are divorced and she lives with her mom next door to her best, and only, friend Jack. She was adopted from far away and has always felt like an outsider at school. Jack is the only one who's paid her attention. Until one day he doesn’t. This snowy day Jack gets hit in the eye and leaves school for the day. But, overnight he changes. Then he disappears. When Hazel finds out what may have happened to Jack, there’s only one thing she can do. Rescue him. Hazel is an avid reader and knows how fantasy novels work: find entry to the other world, go there, get help, solve problems, find friends, come home. Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t always work like books. Wait, isn’t this a book?

Ursu takes the (previously unfamiliar to me) story of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen (1844)and brings it to life. Breadcrumbs weaves the tales to together into something more familiar and relatable than Andersen's original. Jack and Hazel’s friendship comes to life, something you don’t see between Gerda and Kay, the original boy and girl. This makes Jack’s defection all the more heartbreaking. We understand why Hazel wants to rescue him and we root for her along the way. Get this one!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - Bookaday #15

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

This was recommended to me by my intern.  Bryn is human but was raised by wolves, hence the title.  She's the "daughter" of the pack leader, Callum.  She's lived there all her life and has always felt safe and protected and like she belongs. She finds out that someone has been making wolves and when she investigates, against Callum's orders of course, she finds someone who brings back memories.  She doesn't know Chase but they have this weird connection.  When she uncovers the truth about how she came to be a part of the pack, she decides to go out and right some wrongs. Interesting take on werewolves. 

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Allison Goodman - Bookaday #14

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

I've had this book on my shelves since 2008, when it first came out.  It reminded me of Mulan, girl passing self off as boy.  Not that I've ever seen Mulan, but I'm sure it's on the shelves somewhere.  Anyway.  Eon is in training to be one of the next Dragoneye apprentices.  There are 12 dragons, each corresponding to a line on the compass, who chose a Dragoneye Master to wield it's power.  The Dragoneye Master are trained fighters and they use the magic of the dragon to control the weather and protect the villages.  They are also very rich and powerful as they have the ear of the Emperor as well.  Twelve 12-year-old boys are chosen each year to train with a Master and eventually take his place.  The families of the twelve can be assured of a secured near future.  Those not chosen can be assured of ruin.  Also, women are not allowed, keep out.  So, Eon, who is this sixteen year-old girl who used to be on the streets, is posing as a 12 year-old boy.  Her master, Heuris Brannon, has pledged pretty much everything he owns, including his reputation, on her being chosen.  If she fails, the whole house of Brannon fails. If anyone finds out she's a girl, the whole house of Brannon fails. No pressure.  Many twists and turn and lots of intrigue, very well researched.


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