Thanksgiving Week TBR Edition 4

Well, it’s deer hunting season in Wisconsin starting this weekend, which means my house out in the middle of nowhere will be surrounded by hunters in blaze orange…….meaning I’ll be locked inside with nothing to do but bake, sew and read! AND next week is only 2 days of school/work! AND we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in any traditional sense. So, that’s 7 days with only 2 days of work and almost no plans except ringing bells for Salvation Army (if you have never done this, please go register to do so immediately)……………that means LOTS of reading time!

This past week included a partial derailment from the planned TBR due to my mood being absolutely NOT fit for darker books –  I immediately read the Irish cozy I received in the mail after the last TBR post published and I replaced 2 of the titles from last week’s TBR with a sweet April 2018 middle grade story for Kid Lit Exchange and a light romance releasing November 21 from Gallery Books. Honestly, no one wants me to write a review for a book I’m not in the mood for, and this time of year is so dark and gloomy that I’m finding I need things that will perk me up. Just the way it is!

For reviews of last week’s reads, head to my Instagram or Goodreads!

Now onto this week’s plan ~ we’ll see what ends up happening! As usual, all descriptions are from Goodreads.

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan
(Broadway Books ~ February 23, 2017)

I received this review copy in my October blogger book send from Crown Publishing and it looks amazing ~ I’m all about England + historical fiction + women’s fiction!

ChilburyFor readers of Lilac Girls and The NightingaleThe Chilbury Ladies’ Choir unfolds the struggles, affairs, deceptions, and triumphs of a village choir during World War II.

As England becomes enmeshed in the early days of World War II and the men are away fighting, the women of Chilbury village forge an uncommon bond. They defy the Vicar’s stuffy edict to close the choir and instead “carry on singing,” resurrecting themselves as the Chilbury Ladies’ Choir. We come to know the home-front struggles of five unforgettable choir members: a timid widow devastated when her only son goes to fight; the older daughter of a local scion drawn to a mysterious artist; her younger sister pining over an impossible crush; a Jewish refugee from Czechoslovakia hiding a family secret; and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past.

An enchanting ensemble story that shuttles from village intrigue to romance to the heartbreaking matters of life and death, Jennifer Ryan’s debut novel thrillingly illuminates the true strength of the women on the home front in a village of indomitable spirit.

Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (Young Adult)
(Soho Teen ~ January 16, 2018)

I typically try to read my ARCs closer to release date, but I’m dying to read this one and there are a lot of other eager reviewers for Kid Lit Exchange wanting to get their hands on it! Thanks to Soho Teen for the review copy!

lovehatefiltersA searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter (i.e.; staying nearby in Chicago and being matched with a “suitable” Muslim boy), and the one where she goes to film school in New York City–and maybe, just maybe, kisses a guy she’s only known from afar. There’s the also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya’s last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed with hatred and fear?

Rethinking Possible: A Memoir of Resilience by Rebecca Faye Smith Galli
(She Writes Press ~ June 13, 2017)

Thanks to BookSparks for the review copy of this memoir – the author’s story looks heartbreaking!

rethinkingpossibleBecky Galli was born into a family that valued the power of having a plan. With a pastor father and a stay-at-home mother, her 1960s southern upbringing was bucolic–even enviable. But when her brother, only seventeen, died in a waterskiing accident, the slow unraveling of her perfect family began.

Though grief overwhelmed the family, twenty-year-old Galli forged onward with her life plans–marriage, career, and raising a family of her own–one she hoped would be as idyllic as the family she once knew.

But life had less than ideal plans in store. There was her son’s degenerative, undiagnosed disease and subsequent death; followed by her daughter’s autism diagnosis; her separation; and then, nine days after the divorce was final, the onset of the transverse myelitis that would leave Galli paralyzed from the waist down.

Despite such unspeakable tragedy, Galli maintained her belief in family, in faith, in loving unconditionally, and in learning to not only accept, but also embrace a life that had veered down a path far different from the one she had envisioned. At once heartbreaking and inspiring, Rethinking Possible is a story about the power of love over loss and the choices we all make that shape our lives –especially when forced to confront the unimaginable.

Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners by Natalie Rompella (Middle Grade)
(Sky Pony Press ~ November 14, 2017)

I requested a review copy of this title from Sky Pony because HELLO! Dogs + baking = 2 of my favorite things on earth! The cover is adorable and looks like it will fly off of my library shelves.

cookiecuttersMost kids would dread the start of middle school and the year-long Explorations project that comes with it, but Ana knows that her + her best friend Lily + their plan to write and sell their own cookbook is a recipe for success. Lily’s not just the perfect partner in culinary crime–she’s also the only person in the world who understands Ana’s need to wash her hands five times before picking up a spatula, and would never make fun of her for it.

But Ana and Lily’s plan for edible entrepreneurship turns into one big baking disaster when they’re assigned to different partners for their projects. As if it wasn’t bad enough that Lily seems more excited to get to know her new partner than bummed about being separated, Lily and her new friend plan to use the cookbook idea for themselves–and they didn’t even ask! Worse, Ana’s partner is Dasher, the strange new girl from Alaska, and she wants to do their project on the weirdest thing imaginable: sled dog racing.

Dasher’s dogs are scary, slobbery, and decidedly not germ-free, but Ana thinks she’s found a loophole when she agrees to bake pancakes for spectators while Dasher mushes in a local race. That is, until Dasher sprains her ankle and has to drop out of the running. Can Ana learn to mush–and overcome her anxiety–in time to save her friendships, finish her project, and compete in the big race?

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig 
(Park Row Books ~ May 2, 2017)

This is the November adult pick for the Diverse Books Club on Goodreads ~ I have had an ARC of it since this past winter and am glad to finally have this push to read it! The reviews are AMAZING.

ginnymoonTold in an extraordinary and wholly unique voice that will candidly take you into the mind of a curious and deeply human character.

For the first time in her life, Ginny Moon has found her “forever home”—a place where she’ll be safe and protected, with a family that will love and nurture her. It’s exactly the kind of home that all foster kids are hoping for. So why is this 14-year-old so desperate to get kidnapped by her abusive, drug-addict birth mother, Gloria, and return to a grim existence of hiding under the kitchen sink to avoid the authorities and her mother’s violent boyfriends?

While Ginny is pretty much your average teenager—she plays the flute in the school band, has weekly basketball practice and studies Robert Frost poems for English class—she is autistic. And so what’s important to Ginny includes starting every day with exactly nine grapes for breakfast, Michael Jackson, bacon-pineapple pizza and, most of all, getting back to Gloria so she can take care of her baby doll.

Ginny Moon is a compulsively readable and touching novel about being an outsider trying to find a place to belong and making sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up.

I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina (Young Adult Graphic Novel)
(Tu Books ~ October 10, 2017)

I received this review copy in a blogger book send from Lee and Low. I hadn’t heard of it before getting my copy, but the blurbs on the back from everyone amazing in YA make me think that it just hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves yet.

alfonsojonesAlfonso Jones can’t wait to play the role of Hamlet in his school’s hip-hop rendition of the classic Shakespearean play. He also wants to let his best friend, Danetta, know how he really feels about her. But as he is buying his first suit, an off-duty police officer mistakes a clothes hanger for a gun, and he shoots Alfonso.

When Alfonso wakes up in the afterlife, he’s on a ghost train guided by well-known victims of police shootings, who teach him what he needs to know about this subterranean spiritual world. Meanwhile, Alfonso’s family and friends struggle with their grief and seek justice for Alfonso in the streets. As they confront their new realities, both Alfonso and those he loves realize the work that lies ahead in the fight for justice.

In the first graphic novel for young readers to focus on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, as in Hamlet, the dead shall speak—and the living yield even more surprises.

Foreword by Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy

Amanda Wakes Up by Alisyn Camerota
(Viking Books ~ July 25, 2017)

I chose this book to review from Blogging for Books ~ it looks like a perfect read for a cold, gloomy November day! 

amandawakesupThe Devil Wears Prada meets Primary Colors in this wickedly funny debut novel about a bootstrapping young reporter who lands a plum job at a big-time cable news station and finds her ambitions and her love life turned upside down.

When Amanda Gallo, fresh from the backwater of local TV, lands the job of her dreams at FAIR News—the coveted morning anchor slot—she’s finally made it: a six-figure salary, wardrobe allowance, plenty of on-air face time, and a chance to realize her dreams, not to mention buy herself lunch. Amanda Wakes Uptakes off as Amanda feels for the first time that she can make her mom and her best friend proud and think about an actual future with her boyfriend, Charlie. But she finds her journalistic ideals shredded as she struggles to keep up with the issues in a ratings-crazed madhouse—battling for hair and makeup time, coping with her sexist (but scathingly handsome) coanchor, Rob, mixing up the headlines with pajama modeling on the street, and showing Benji Diggs, her media maestro boss, that she’s got what it takes.

As the news heats up in a hotly contested election season and a wild-card candidate, former Hollywood actor Victor Fluke, appears on the scene, Amanda’s pressure-cooker job gets hotter as her personal life unravels. Walking a knife’s edge between ambition and survival, and about to break the biggest story of her career, Amanda must decide what she’s willing to give up to get ahead—and what she needs to hold on to save herself.

Picture Books to Cuddle Up With on a Sick Day

It’s cold and flu season here in the midwest, but when there are this many cute picture books about the topic, it’s *almost* bearable! As a teacher and mom, I am well aware of how much time our little ones spend at home sniffling and sneezing and slightly miserable during these months ~ why not have a stash of picture books to let the little patient know he is not alone in his misery? Or, for teachers to share with students to welcome in the season and initiate a talk about “when we sneeze, we do it in our sleeve” and all about the hand sanitizer location, etc.

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And in the spirit of sick days, today I am honored to be a part of the blog tour for a brand new title from Candlewick (11/7/17 release date) ~ ALIENS GET THE SNIFFLES TOO by Katy S. Duffield is absolutely adorable and will be sure to get even the most stuffed up little kiddo giggling. And not only that, the outer space setting is fun to read about even when everyone is healthy!

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for the review copy of this title ~ all opinions are my own.

Below this description I have shared more about the author PLUS a giveaway link and a round up of titles to pair it with for those snuffly, sneezy, whiney sick days. You might want to request them all from your library ASAP so you’re ready!

Ahhh-flying-saucer-shooting-star-CHOO! Laughter is the best medicine when you’re a little alien feeling under the weather.

Little Alien is sick. And sick is extra-terrestrial bad when you have two scratchy throats, five ears that hurt, and three runny noses. Splatch! Sputter! Spurt! Luckily Mama and Daddy Alien have an arsenal of lunar decongestants and meteor showers on hand to make him feel a little better (not to mention a Milky Way milkshake to help the medicine go down). Even so, the family’s alien pooch, Mars Rover, can’t stand to see his little buddy feeling out of sorts. Can a loyal pup’s funny tricks finally coax a smile?

Related titles

These are all of the “sick day” stories I have already collected in my library and have loved using for storytimes! Can’t wait to add Aliens Get the Sniffles Too! to this collection!

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About the Author

Katy Duffield is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books for children. She lives in Florida with her husband. To learn more, and to download classroom resources, visit katyduffield.com. Twitter: @KatyDuffield

Check out Katy on Pinterest!

K. G. Campbell is the illustrator of Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo and the author-illustrator of Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters. He was born in Kenya, raised in Scotland, and now lives in southern California.

Check out the activity guide too!

TWO giveaway opportunities!!

  1. One grand-prize winner will receive a out-of-this-world alien backpack with a signed copy of Aliens Get the Sniffles Too! along with tissue packs, toy mini aliens, and space pencils.

  2. Ten lucky runners-up will receive a copy of Aliens Get the Sniffles Too!

To enter, click here.

Girls and Coding and Libraries OH MY!

I am honored to be a part of the Penguin Young Readers blog tour for the Girls Who Code series today, and was provided complimentary copies of two of the below titles for review. All opinions are my own.

As a school librarian in a district without a dedicated computer science program, I try hard to expose my elementary students to coding activities in the library whenever possible. I have always been a HUGE fan of the Code.org courses and Hour of Code activities, and I also use the Kodable app with my 2nd graders. We work so hard on developing a “figure it out” mindset when working with these activities – a mindset that will transcend any particular lesson or coding language and will serve students well in any area. We are a 1:1 iPad school, so we are blessed to have access to the technology needed for these activities.  However, I have always struggled a bit to find related print resources to share with kids in my library.

Well, HALLELUJAH! This new selection of titles from Penguin Young Readers fills a HUGE gap in both the fiction and nonfiction middle grade section of my library. I was first introduced to these books when I read an ARC of the first title in the Girls Who Code chapter book series, The Friendship Code, this summer through Kid Lit Exchange. I really enjoyed it, and it has been getting rave reviews from the other reviewers in the KLE network as well. I then immediately purchased a copy for my library, along with the accompanying title, Learn to Code and Change the World. The fiction titles are written about middle schoolers, but definitely skew on the younger side, as far down as grade 4.  

And now there are even MORE books in this collection, as shown below!

These are a great addition to any library or classroom collection, and due to the variety in formats, there is surely to be a title that will appeal to almost any aspiring coder. And can boys read them? Why not?

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About the Books

Imagine if the Babysitters Club started a coding club…

Lucy can’t wait for the new coding club at school to start. Even though she’s only in sixth grade, she has an idea for an app, and is excited to get started on it. But Lucy’s excitement turns to disappointment when she shows up at the first meeting. Sophia is there–she and Lucy had a fight over the summer and they are now ex-friends. There’s also Maya–a very cool seventh grader who Lucy’s never dared talk to. And then there’s Erin–a new girl who nobody really knows. Not only does Lucy not get to work on her brilliant idea for an app, she also ends up working with Sophia, Maya, and Erin to discover the meaning of some mysterious notes that are in coding language. Lucy and the rest of the girls soon discover that coding takes time, patience, and dedication–and so does friendship.

girlswhocode2Team BFF: Race to the Finish! – Book 2

Now that Sophia and her friends are an official group in coding club, they can’t wait to bring their coding ideas to life. In fact, they signed up for their first hackathon–a full day of coding and meeting other coders! When they run into Leila–a girl from coding club who happens to be into robotics and who needs a group for the hackathon–they quickly become a team of five. But things don’t go according to plan. Can the girls find a way to work together? They know that coding is all about teamwork and problem-solving–maybe friendship is, too!

The first book in a multi-format, cross-imprint partnership between nonprofit organization Girls Who Code and Penguin Young Readers Group!

Since 2012, Girls Who Code has taught computing skills to and inspired over 10,000 girls across America–and they’re just at the beginning of their mission to close the gender gap in tech. Part how-to, part inspiration, and all fun, this graphically illustrated book by Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani proves to readers that coding is truly for everyone. Bursting with dynamic artwork, down-to-earth explanations of coding principles, and real-life stories of girls and women working at places like Pixar and NASA, Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World will show girls how coding skills are relevant to their lives, no matter their interests. Think you’re not a computer science person? Think again–once you read Girls Who Code, you’ll be itching to create your own apps, games, and robots to change the world! 

girlscode4Code it! Create it!

 Design the perfect coding-powered project for yourself in this informative, interactive book.

If you could make an app, computer program, or anything programmed with code, what would it be? A game, clothing that lights up, or maybe a robot to help you clean your room? Whatever your interests are, this fun-filled interactive book will guide you through your brainstorming process, provide inspiration, and teach you basic coding concepts. Put your thinking cap on and get ready to be creative!

About the Founder of Girls Who Code

Reshma Saujani is the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology, and the former Deputy Public Advocate of New York City. As Executive Director of the Fund for Public Advocacy, Reshma brought together public and private sectors to encourage entrepreneurship and civic engagement across NYC. Today, she has galvanized industry leaders to close the gender gap in STEM education and empower girls to pursue careers in technology and engineering. In 2010, Reshma became the first South Asian woman to run for Congress, promoting smarter policies to spur innovation and job creation. Advocating for a new model of female leadership focused on risk-taking, competition and mentorship, Reshma boldly encourages women to charter their own course in her book entitled Women Who Don’t Wait in Line, released in October 2013 by Amazon Publishing.

 She has been named one of Fortune’s 40 under 40, a WSJ Magazine Innovator of the Year, one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in New York by the New York Daily News, Forbes’s Most Powerful Women Changing the World, Business Insiders 50 Women Who Are Changing the World, and an AOL/PBS Next MAKER.

About Girls Who Code

In 2012, Reshma Saujani founded the national non-profit organization Girls Who Code to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.  Girls Who Code believes to close the gender gap in technology, we have to inspire girls to pursue computer science by exposing them to real life and on screen role models. They engage engineers, developers, executives, and entrepreneurs to teach and motivate the next generation. Their guest speakers, mentors, and instructors are leaders in their fields, working in positions the girls aspire to attain.

Girls Who Code aims to provide computer science education and exposure to one million young women by 2020. Together with leading educators, engineers, and entrepreneurs, Girls Who Code has developed a new model for computer science education, pairing intensive instruction in robotics, web design, and mobile development with high-touch mentorship and exposure led by the industry’s top female engineers and entrepreneurs.

Through rapid iteration and expansion of the Summer Immersion Program and highly-scalable Girls Who Code Clubs, Girls Who Code has delivered thousands of hours of instruction since beginning in 2012. 94% of students graduate from their Summer Immersion Programs and say that they want to pursue a major or minor in computer science, and 99% would recommend Girls Who Code to other girls.

Girls Who Code programs have earned support from CEOs of top Fortune 500 companies, engaged more than 700 industry professionals, delivered some of the most robust data on computer science education, and been featured in 100+ publications and media outlets, from The New York Times to the Today Show. By the end of 2015, Girls Who Code will have reached over 10,000 girls and plans to have a presence in all fifty states.

Ready to start coding? Try our interactive Girls Who Code coding activity and find a club near you at GirlsWhoCode.com/book.

The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

I absolutely HAD to make time to share this book with you! It arrived in the mail last Friday night (a complimentary review copy from Harper Perennial) after I had already posted my weekly TBR post, and I immediately moved it to the top of my weekend stack. And I LOVED it! Remember how much I loved this one? And this one? Well, The Library at the Edge of the World is now added to that love fest of books for book lovers!

The Library at the Edge of the WorldThe Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy
(Harper Perennial ~ November 14, 2017 ~ US EDITION)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Description (from Goodreads)

In the bestselling tradition of Fannie Flagg and Jenny Colgan comes Felicity Hayes-McCoy’s U.S. debut about a local librarian who must find a way to rebuild her community and her own life in this touching, enchanting novel set on Ireland’s stunning West Coast.

As she drives her mobile library van between villages of Ireland’s West Coast, Hanna Casey tries not to think about a lot of things. Like the sophisticated lifestyle she abandoned after finding her English barrister husband in bed with another woman. Or that she’s back in Lissbeg, the rural Irish town she walked away from in her teens, living in the back bedroom of her overbearing mother’s retirement bungalow. Or, worse yet, her nagging fear that, as the local librarian and a prominent figure in the community, her failed marriage and ignominious return have made her a focus of gossip. 

With her teenage daughter, Jazz, off travelling the world and her relationship with her own mother growing increasingly tense, Hanna is determined to reclaim her independence by restoring a derelict cottage left to her by her great-aunt. But when the threatened closure of the Lissbeg Library puts her personal plans in jeopardy, Hanna finds herself leading a battle to restore the heart and soul of the Finfarran Peninsula’s fragmented community. And she’s about to discover that the neighbors she’d always kept at a distance have come to mean more to her than she ever could have imagined. 

Told with heart, wry wit, and charm, The Library at the Edge of the World is a joyous story about the meaning of home and the importance of finding a place where you truly belong.

Review

This is an absolutely wonderful book for every book lover on earth! I adored this story of a public library, a woman starting over, family, friends and community set in rural Ireland. The setting is fabulous, the people make my heart happy and the storyline of a librarian saving a library makes this school librarian jump for joy. The P.S. section at the end of the book includes a ton of wonderful information about the author’s background and her thoughts on the Irish setting and current sentiments about emigration and the status of Irish communities.

Now, if all of that makes me so happy, just IMAGINE how excited I was to find out that this is actually the first book in a series that was originally published in Ireland and is just now coming to the US from Harper Perennial! AND, the next 2 books in the series (Ireland editions) are available to buy in the US through Book Depository, so of course I ordered them immediately and can now binge read them the moment they arrive! YAY! The US cover is VERY different from the Irish covers ~ the Irish covers are very much in the “English cozy” style with illustrations and curly cutesy font. Both are great, but I do think this photographic cover will do amazingly well here in the states!

The next two books are titled Summer at the Garden Cafe and The Mistletoe Matchmaker ~ I very much hope they will also be released in the US!

View all of my Goodreads reviews

TBR Pile Edition 3

Screenshot 2017-11-09 12.28.58

Let’s be real ~ these TBR piles are WAY too big to read in a weekend! I’m very proud of myself that I have completed all but two of the titles on last week’s stack, though, PLUS another title that I just couldn’t help myself from picking up Wednesday night when it showed up from Book of the Month. All of those reviews are on my Goodreads and Instagram accounts!

Here is what’s on my radar for the coming weekend and week ~ this might be my most ambitious and time sensitive stack yet! Two of these HAVE to be completed before the end of next week, so I guess I’ll be starting there……and three of them release on Tuesday and I like to have them read before release date…….eeeeeeeeek!

All descriptions from Goodreads

The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold #1) by Traci Chee – YOUNG ADULT
(Putnam ~ September 13, 2016)

This is my final title to read for the Librarian Battle of the Books I will be competing in next Friday night!

thereaderOnce there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.

Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.

Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
(Gallery Books ~ July 19, 2016)

This is one that has been on my TBR for a LONG time, and is now the pick for my IRL book club meeting on Thursday!

womanincabin10In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

Strangers in Budapest by Jessica Keener
(Algonquin ~ November 14, 2017)

Thanks so much to Algonquin for this review copy – it looks fascinating!

strangersinbudapestBudapest: gorgeous city of secrets, with ties to a shadowy, bloody past.  It is to this enigmatic European capital that a young American couple, Annie and Will, move from Boston with their infant son shortly after the fall of the Communist regime. For Annie, it is an effort to escape the ghosts that haunt her past, and Will wants simply to seize the chance to build a new future for his family.

Eight months after their move, their efforts to assimilate are thrown into turmoil when they receive a message from friends in the US asking that they check up on an elderly man, a fiercely independent Jewish American WWII veteran who helped free Hungarian Jews from a Nazi prison camp. They soon learn that the man, Edward Weiss, has come to Hungary to exact revenge on someone he is convinced seduced, married, and then murdered his daughter.

Annie, unable to resist anyone’s call for help, recklessly joins in the old man’s plan to track down his former son-in-law and confront him, while Will, pragmatic and cautious by nature, insists they have nothing to do with Weiss and his vendetta. What Annie does not anticipate is that in helping Edward she will become enmeshed in a dark and deadly conflict that will end in tragedy and a stunning loss of innocence.

No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear – YOUNG ADULT
(Soho Teen ~ November 14, 2017)

Thanks to Soho Teen for this review copy – this YA title looks really compelling and I have read some great reviews of it!

nosaintsinkansasA gripping reimagining of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and the brutal murders that inspired it

November is usually quiet in Holcomb, Kansas, but in 1959, the town is shattered by the quadruple murder of the Clutter family. Suspicion falls on Nancy Clutter’s boyfriend, Bobby Rupp, the last one to see them alive.

New Yorker Carly Fleming, new to the small Midwestern town, is an outsider. She tutored Nancy, and (in private, at least) they were close. Carly and Bobby were the only ones who saw that Nancy was always performing, and that she was cracking under the pressure of being Holcomb’s golden girl. The secret connected Carly and Bobby. Now that Bobby is an outsider, too, they’re bound closer than ever.

Determined to clear Bobby’s name, Carly dives into the murder investigation and ends up in trouble with the local authorities. But that’s nothing compared to the wrath she faces from Holcomb once the real perpetrators are caught. When her father is appointed to defend the killers of the Clutter family, the entire town labels the Flemings as traitors. Now Carly must fight for what she knows is right.

Mean by Myriam Gurba
(Coffee House Press ~ November 14, 2017)

Thanks to Coffee House Press for this review copy – I’m so excited for this one after reading the stellar reviews in various newsletters I receive, as well as on Goodreads! It looks so powerful.

meanMyriam Gurba’s debut is the bold and hilarious tale of her coming of age as a queer, mixed-race Chicana. Blending radical formal fluidity and caustic humor, Mean turns what might be tragic into piercing, revealing comedy. This is a confident, funny, brassy book that takes the cost of sexual assault, racism, misogyny, and homophobia deadly seriously.
We act mean to defend ourselves from boredom and from those who would cut off our breasts. We act mean to defend our clubs and institutions. We act mean because we like to laugh. Being mean to boys is fun and a second-wave feminist duty. Being mean to men who deserve it is a holy mission. Sisterhood is powerful, but being mean is more exhilarating.

Being mean isn’t for everybody.

Being mean is best practiced by those who understand it as an art form.

These virtuosos live closer to the divine than the rest of humanity. They’re queers.

Army Wife: A Story of Love and Family in the Heart of the Army by Vicki Cody
(She Writes Press ~ August 16, 2016)

Thanks so much to BookSparks for this review copy! A perfect read for Veteran’s Day weekend as we honor all of those who have served in our armed forces. 

armywifeFrom the last days of the Vietnam War to the present-day war on terrorism, this story is a moving and poignant tribute to love, marriage, family, and the men and women who serve this nation. In describing her thirty-three-year journey as an Army wife, Cody gives an in-depth look at what it takes to keep a marriage strong, raise a family–oftentimes as a single parent–create a home, and face separations and loneliness amid the uncertainty and stresses that are so much a part of Army life. Over the years, Cody learns to embrace the uniqueness of her circumstances, and she finds joy, self-fulfillment, and pride in her role. But when both her sons follow in their dad’s footsteps, becoming Army Aviators and flying Apache helicopters in combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, Cody faces her greatest challenges as a mother and again, must balance the needs of her family with her husband’s position. Full of humor and honesty, Army Wife brings the reader into Cody’s private life in a very personal way, and in doing so opens the lens for a broader view of world events.

 

 

 

Required Purchase: Speaking Our Truth

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As I have mentioned lately, I’m struggling to find the time to post for each book that I read. However, some titles are so urgent and timely and important that I need to get them out to everyone I know as quickly as I can. This is one of those books. It’s a title I feel incredibly strongly about, and after reading the review copy I received from Orca Publishers, I feel the need to shout about it from the rooftops. I have also included some other great reviews, posts, book lists etc for Native American Heritage Month at the end of this post.

And, because I am NOT an Own Voices reviewer of this title, I am going to let the book speak for itself and not offer a full review. As a school librarian, however, I will say that it is a required purchase. It is written in a very accessible format and while it is focused on reconciliation in Canada, it is 100% applicable to readers in the US as well, given the shared history and experiences with the Residential School system.

Disclosure: I received both of these books as complimentary review copies upon request from Orca Publishers. I have donated them to my school library. 


speaking our truthSpeaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation by Monique Gray Smith
(Orca ~ September 19, 2017)
Ages 8 and up

Canada’s relationship with its Indigenous people has suffered as a result of both the Residential School system and the lack of understanding of the historical and current impact of those schools. Healing and repairing that relationship requires education, awareness and increased understanding of the legacy and the impacts still being felt by Survivors and their families. Guided by acclaimed Indigenous author Monique Gray Smith, readers will learn about the lives of Survivors and listen to allies who are putting the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into action.

Watch Monique Gray Smith’s video explaining why people need to learn about Reconciliation.

Here are some great reviews of this title:

Kirkus
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal
Reading While White

Monique Gray Smith has also just released another title ~ a picture book titled You Hold You hold me upMe Up (Orca ~ October 31, 2017) that is dedicated to the children, families and staff of Aboriginal Head Start programs. It was written “to remind us of our common humanity and the importance of holding each other up with respect and dignity. I hope it is a foundational book for our littlest citizens. A book that encourages dialogue among children, their families, their care providers and their educators. At its heart, it is a book about love, building relationships and fostering empathy.”

This is a story that I will be sharing in my preschool story times and recommend for all libraries and classrooms that serve our youngest children.

Some related reading:

Rich In Color – Native Perspectives
Native American Heritage Month
Anything and everything on the American Indians in Childrens Literature website 

I also received an email newsletter from Book Riot with an awesome list of Native American YA Reads but realized I can’t link it here! I’m sorry! I can’t find it on their website but if you want to comment here with your email I will forward it to you.

AND lastly, if you’re wondering (which I was until reading this last year)……..this is from the sidebar of the AICL website:

American Indian? Or, Native American? There is no agreement among Native peoples. Both are used. It is best to be specific. Example: Instead of “Debbie Reese, a Native American,” say “Debbie Reese, a Nambe Pueblo Indian woman.”

Weekend (and next week) TBR Edition 2

Yay! Two weeks straight of this new idea I had – I’m on a roll!

All descriptions and links are from Goodreads ~ follow me there and on Instagram for my reviews!

Okay, let’s start off with my CURRENTLY reading title – this is an 800 page monster of a book, so I’ve been reading it ALL. WEEK. LONG and will be reading it through the weekend for sure. That is pretty much unheard of for me! I’m really, really enjoying it, though, so if you are into lengthy detailed political and historical sagas, look for this one!

The Revolution of Marina M. by Janet Fitch
(Little Brown ~ November 7, 2017

MarinaMFrom the mega-bestselling author of White Oleander and Paint It Black, a sweeping historical saga of the Russian Revolution, as seen through the eyes of one young woman.

St. Petersburg, New Year’s Eve, 1916. Marina Makarova is a young woman of privilege who aches to break free of the constraints of her genteel life, a life about to be violently upended by the vast forces of history. Swept up on these tides, Marina will join the marches for workers’ rights, fall in love with a radical young poet, and betray everything she holds dear, before being betrayed in turn.

As her country goes through almost unimaginable upheaval, Marina’s own coming-of-age unfolds, marked by deep passion and devastating loss, and the private heroism of an ordinary woman living through extraordinary times. This is the epic, mesmerizing story of one indomitable woman’s journey through some of the most dramatic events of the last century.

Now for the TBR!

Due to the fact that I spent so much time on Marina this week, my “weekend” TBR is now big enough to last the weekend and all of next week as well! Here is what I’m going to be focusing on……..

The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State
by Nadia Murad
(Tim Duggan Books ~ November 7, 2017)

Thanks to Crown Publishing for this review copy! This looks absolutely fascinating, but possibly a tough read. I may be reading this one on and off combined with one of the lighter middle grade titles below.

thelastgirlIn this intimate memoir of survival, a former captive of ISIS tells her harrowing and ultimately inspiring story.

Nadia Murad was born and raised in Kocho, a small village of farmers and shepherds in Iraq. A member of the Yazidi community, she and her eleven brothers and sisters lived a quiet life. Nadia was in high school and had dreams of becoming a history teacher and opening her own beauty salon.

On August 15th, 2014, when Nadia was just twenty-one years old, this life ended. ISIS militants massacred the people of her village, executing men old enough to fight and women too old to become sex slaves. Six of Nadia’s brothers were killed, and her mother soon after, their bodies swept into mass graves. Nadia and her two sisters were taken to Mosul, where they joined thousands of Yazidi girls in the ISIS slave trade.

Nadia would be sold three times, raped, beaten, and forced to convert to Islam in order to marry one of her captors. Finally, she managed a narrow escape through the streets of Mosul, finding shelter in the home of a Sunni Muslim family whose eldest son risked his life to smuggle her to the safety of a refugee camp. There, surrounded by bereaved and broken Yazidi families, Nadia decided to devote her life to bringing ISIS to justice.

As a farm girl in rural Iraq, Nadia could not have imagined she would one day address the United Nations or be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She had never been to Baghdad, or even seen an airplane. As a slave, she was told by her captors that Yazidis would be erased from the face of the earth, and there were times when she believed them.

Today, Nadia’s story–as a witness to ISIS, a survivor of rape, a refugee, a Yazidi–has forced the world to pay attention to the ongoing genocide in Iraq. It is a call to action, a testament to the human will to survive, and a love letter to a lost country, a fragile community, and a family torn apart by war.

Millard Salter’s Last Day by Jacob M. Appel
(Gallery Books ~ November 7, 2017)

Thanks to Gallery for this review copy! I have read some great reviews of this one, so am excited to dig in.

millardsalterIn the spirit of the New York Times bestselling A Man Called Ove, this is the heartwarming story of a man who decides to end his life before he’s too old—but then begins to reconsider when he faces complications from the world around him.

In an effort to delay the frailty and isolation that comes with old age, psychiatrist Millard Salter decides to kill himself by the end of the day—but first he has to tie up some loose ends. These include a tête-à-tête with his youngest son, Lysander, who at forty-three has yet to hold down a paying job; an unscheduled rendezvous with his first wife, Carol, whom he hasn’t seen in twenty-seven years; and a brief visit to the grave of his second wife, Isabelle. Complicating this plan though is Delilah, the widow with whom he has fallen in love in the past few months. As Millard begins to wrap up his life, he confronts a lifetime of challenges during a single day—and discovers that his family has a big surprise for him as well.

The Bowery: The Strange History of New York’s Oldest Street
by Stephen Paul Devillo

(Skyhorse Publishing ~ November 7, 2017)

I requested a review copy of this from Skyhorse because I am obsessed with NYC history ~  a huge thanks to them for indulging my obsession!

theboweryIt was the street your mother warned you about–even if you lived in San Francisco. Long associated with skid row, saloons, freak shows, violence, and vice, the Bowery often showed the worst New York City had to offer. Yet there were times when it showed its best as well. The Bowery is New York’s oldest street and Manhattan’s broadest boulevard. Like the city itself, it has continually reinvented itself over the centuries. Named for the Dutch farms, or bouweries, of the area, the path’s lurid character was established early when it became the site of New Amsterdam’s first murder. A natural spring near the Five Points neighborhood led to breweries and taverns that became home to the gangs of New York–the “Bowery B’hoys,” “Plug Uglies,” and “Dead Rabbits.” In the Gaslight Era, teenaged streetwalkers swallowed poison in McGurk’s Suicide Hall. A brighter side to the street was reflected in places of amusement and culture over the years. A young P.T. Barnum got his start there, and Harry Houdini learned showmanship playing the music halls and dime museums. Poets, singers, hobos, gangsters, soldiers, travelers, preachers, storytellers, con-men, and reformers all gathered there. Its colorful cast of characters include Peter Stuyvesant, Steve Brodie, Carrie Nation, Stephen Foster, Stephen Crane, Carrie Joy Lovett, and even Abraham Lincoln. The Bowery: The Strange History of New York’s Oldest Street traces the full story of this once notorious thoroughfare from its pre-colonial origins to the present day.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
(Knopf ~ September 9, 2014)

I may be the last person on earth to have NOT read this book, and despite EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. in the #bookstagram world telling me how amazing this is, it’s not one I would have picked up if it weren’t on my Librarian Battle of the Books list. Fingers crossed all of those bookish friends are right!

stationelevenAn audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains – this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway (YOUNG ADULT)
(Harper Teen ~ October 3, 2017) 

National Book Award finalist and my Instagram librarian BFF Laura tells me it is AMAZING – those two things have pushed this to the top of my YA TBR pile!

farfromthetreeA contemporary novel about three adopted siblings who find each other at just the right moment.

Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.

That’s the Spirit by Stacia Deutsch (MIDDLE GRADE)
(Stone Arch Books ~ August 1, 2017)

This is another title that was included in the Intermediate WAM Book Bundle I received for free as one of the company’s Instagram reps – it looks great, and it may end up being a series I want to buy for my library. 

that's the spirtThe brown house at the end of Shaker Street is a bit shady. Everyone who moves in gets scared off. Liv is convinced the house is haunted by the ghost of its late owner, General Pablo Carlos, Michael doesn’t buy it, and Leo want nothing to do with ghosts! One thing’s for certain, something fishy is going on. The Mysterious Makers set to making a ghost detector to determine just what’s behind the spirit on Shaker Street. Real-life makers can keep the fun going and create their own detector and levitating ghost with instructions at the end of the book, and a glossary and reader questions make this a great choice.

Kat Greene Comes Clean by Melissa Roske (MIDDLE GRADE)
(Charlesbridge ~ August 22, 2017)

I requested this title for review from Charlesbridge because I had read such amazing reviews from my librarian colleagues across the interwebs. I’m really looking forward to reading and adding it to my library!

katgreeneEleven-year-old Kat Greene has a lot on her pre-rinsed plate, thanks to her divorced mom’s obsession with cleaning. When Mom isn’t scrubbing every inch of their Greenwich Village apartment, she’s boiling the silverware or checking Kat’s sheets for bedbugs. It’s enough to drive any middle schooler crazy! Add friendship troubles to the mix, a crummy role in the class production of Harriet the Spy, and Mom’s decision to try out for “Clean Sweep,” a competitive-cleaning TV game show, and what have you got? More trouble than Kat can handle. At least, without a little help from her friends.


Okay, that’s it! Have an awesome weekend!

Tween Review: Escape from the Overworld

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Remember how my daughter writes reviews too? Well, now my son has joined the party! When I was asked to be a part of this Minecraft blog tour, my first thought was NOPE, not my genre. But THEN, I thought of who I know that adores Minecraft……..and then I asked him if he wanted to do start reviewing with us! He said yes, so yay for a family affair.

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Escape from the Overworld
by Danica Davidson

(Sky Pony Press ~ January 6, 2015)

Book Description (from Amazon)

Escape From the Overworld Davidson

From the publisher of The Quest of the Diamond Sword and Battle of the Nether comes a new novel for Minecrafters which takes on a spellbinding battle that brings Stevie and zombie mobs into the real world! 

This adventure series is created especially for readers who love the fight of good vs. evil, magical academies like Hogwarts in the Harry Potter saga, and games like Minecraft, Terraria, and Pokemon GO.

Stevie is in for a big surprise while building his treehouse: he’s first attacked by a creeper, and then must take on a group of zombies! The near miss has him feeling like the worst mob fighter in Minecraft, so when he finds a portal into a brand-new world, he’s willing to take his chances.

He steps out of a computer screen and into the room of a sixth-grade girl Maison, who’s a talented builder. Stevie is shocked by how different this world is, and Maison takes him under her wing. But soon the two friends learn zombies have also made their way out of the portal! 

More and more creatures are slipping out by the second, wreaking havoc on a world that has no idea how to handle zombies, creepers, giant spiders, and the like. Stevie and Maison must put their heads together and use their combined talents in order to push the zombies back into Minecraft, where they belong. As Stevie and Maison’s worlds become more combined, their adventure becomes intense and even more frightening than they could have ever imagined.

Review

As a school librarian, there are absolute mobs of kids wanting everything and anything Minecraft, so I am well aware of the appeal of this fan genre. That being said, I can’t read it myself given that it is SO far outside of my comfort zone, so I rely on kids to tell me what is good among the large number of Minecraft books being printed. Here is what my 5th grader says about this one!

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October Picture Book Roundup

Another month of picture book reviews! This is my monthly round up of the picture books I have received for review from publishers/authors/publicists ~ for more of my picture books posts and reviews, stay tuned to my dedicated Instagram account! And HERE is the blog post with all of the picture books I used in my library story times this month.

Please note that when I receive finished copies of quality titles I donate them to my library. When I receive galleys/ARCs, they are shared with Kid Lit Exchange.


The People Shall ContinueThe People Shall Continue by Simon J. Ortiz
(Lee and Low ~ October 15, 2017 (reissue))

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am BEYOND blessed to have received a review copy of this title from Lee and Low ~ it is such an important narration of the “epic story of Native American People” as described on the back. If you add any children’s nonfiction book to your home library, classroom or actual library this fall, it needs to be this one. It’s a re-issue but just as impeccably told and relevant as it was 40 years ago. And in my personal opinion, if Thanksgiving, Columbus or Westward Expansion are mentioned or taught in any way in schools, this book *must* be included as an antidote. There is a Spanish edition of this title as well. Required purchase. I am adding this copy to my school library collection and purchasing an additional copy as well.


Listen: How Pete Seeger Got America SingingListen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing by Leda Schubert
(Roaring Brook Press ~ June 13, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for the review copy of this title.

As a school librarian, I absolutely love picture book biographies, and this is one that I will definitely be using for a read aloud with classes. I especially love when books have natural tie-ins with extension activities. Whether or not my students are already familiar with Seger’s work, we will be able to listen to clips of his music and discuss the importance that he had on the culture of the United States – you can find a wide variety of resources on Schubert’s site. Throughout the book, as it covers the timeline of Seger’s career, there are song titles below each significant event or topic – this is an excellent set up for a really rich reading and listening experience, whether it be at home, in a library story time or in a music classroom. The illustrations are beautiful with soft pixelated images.

Included in the back pages of this book are an author’s note, bibliography, timeline, recommended children’s books and recommended recordings.


BraveBrave by Stacy McAnulty
(Running Press ~ October 3, 2017)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beautiful and colorful story showing all the different ways of being brave. I adore the fact that the term isn’t defined just by typically heroic acts of muscle and daring, but also never giving up, standing back up, fighting for justice and fighting illness. Very simple text with detailed illustrations depicting a diverse cast of unnamed child characters.

Thanks to Running Press for the review copy of this title – all opinions are my own.

Highly recommended for purchase for school libraries and for all the brave kiddos in your life.


Peep and Egg: I'm Not Taking a BathPeep and Egg: I’m Not Taking a Bath by Laura Gehl
(Farrar Straus Giroux ~ October 24, 2017)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for the review copy of this title.

I read this aloud to my 6 year old for a bedtime story and we both loved it! It’s short and sweet and simple and just perfect for the toddler through kindergarten crowd. I will now be purchasing the rest of the books in this series for my school library – my 4K classes will love them.


Bulldozer DreamsBulldozer Dreams by Sharon Chriscoe
(Running Press Books ~ October 3, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a cute bedtime story for fans of “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site” and all things trucks and diggers!

Thanks to Running Press for the review copy of this title – all opinions are my own.

This is a vividly colored picture book with lyrical text that would be an excellent choice for a bedtime story or class read aloud for grades PK and K. I will be using this book as a PK read aloud in my library. The text is a bit clunky at times, but not in a way noticeable by the youngest listeners, and the illustrations and subject matter will be high interest with this population. Recommended purchase for those with construction-loving kid populations, along with the companion title RACE CAR DREAMS.


Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably)Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever by Julie Falatko
(Viking Children’s Books ~ October 3, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Snappsy is a lovable curmudgeon, and kids love hearing this story with the different voices read with lots of expression. It’s a sweet story of reluctant friendship with a healthy dose of exaggeration. Fans of the earlier Snappsy title and books such as the Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems will eat this up as they follow Snappsy and his friend Bert (who knew he had a name?!?) on their adventures. The illustrations are adorable and the speech bubbles make this attractive to early readers.

Thanks to Running Press for the review copy of this title.

Recommended for purchase in elementary libraries and in classrooms grades K-2.


Pug Pig Trick-or-TreatPug Pig Trick-or-Treat by Sue Lowell Gallion
(Beach Lane Books ~ July 25, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is adorable, with a story and illustrations perfect for an audience grades 1 and under. The story of friendship and Halloween will delight both readers familiar with Pug and Pig, as well as those new to the pair.

Highly recommended for Halloween storytimes for the younger crowd!

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for the review copy of this title.


Me and You and the Red CanoeMe and You and the Red Canoe by Jean E. Pendziwol
(Groundwood Books ~ August 1, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a beautiful book! The style of the illustrations perfectly capture the Northwoods feel of this story of siblings sharing time together on a lake, while the lyrical text and story describe an incredibly peaceful and natural setting. As a native of Northern Wisconsin, this book put me right back at my family’s cabin and evoked such wonderful memories. I will be reading this aloud to my elementary library classes as we head into summer and talk about summer plans.

Thanks to House of Anansi for providing me with a review copy of this title.

Highly recommended for home bookshelves and libraries.


Space Boy and the Snow MonsterSpace Boy and the Snow Monster by Dian Regan
(Boyds Mills Press ~ October 10, 2017)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for this review copy.

This is a fun picture book that is almost written in a graphic format, with different panels on each page. The text is fairly terse, so I can definitely see this one being best used in a one-on-one setting or small group rather than in a large group read aloud. This is book 3 in a series, so fans of the series will be excited about a new title featuring Space Boy!


 Most PeopleMost People by Michael Leannah
(Tilbury House ~ August 15, 2017)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thanks to a publisher’s representative for the review copy of this title.

In these current times of political strife and scary events in our world, this picture book is a reassurance that most people are good. The repeated text and sweet illustrations highlight to kids that despite the actions and words of a few, the world is a good place. I can definitely see this being used with classes or families after witnessing something traumatic, or even just after children see something scary on the news. In my librarian opinion, it would be best to use this in that situation rather than just as a “cold” read aloud. I would recommend this for preschool and up, given that the message can be as deep as the audience wants it to be. This is a book to read alongside Come with Me by Holly McGhee.


 Martí's Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertadMartí’s Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertad by Emma Otheguy
(Lee & Low ~ August 1, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to Lee and Low for the review copy of this title.

This bilingual biography is written in a poetic format with both the main story and the back matter written in English alongside Spanish. The illustrations are soft and colorful. For those familiar with Jose Marti, this is a beautiful tribute. For those unfamiliar with his life and work, this is a wonderful introduction in a very accessible format. The bilingual presentation is much appreciated for use in library collections and classrooms.


View all of my Goodreads reviews

Weekend TBR Pile Edition 1


You guys. I am SO struggling to keep up blogging with a post per book – the TIME required for that is just immense! So today, I’m trying to start a new thing of sharing my weekend TBR piles on Fridays. Yes, I know I tried a Goodreads Monday thing too – maybe this will last longer! This way, even if books pass through my life without ever making it to the blog, you’ll at least know what my intentions were, right? And if you see a book again, great! I do keep up my Goodreads account religiously, though, so you can follow me there to see all of my reviews!

These piles are always VERY ambitious, but are the titles I have on my radar for the weekend.

Here’s what I’m planning to work on this weekend!

All summaries are from Goodreads

Laws of Attraction (Librarians in Love #3) by Sarah Title
(Zebra Shout ~ October 31, 2017)

Thanks to Kensington Books for this review copy! I requested a review copy after purchasing the first two books in the series, which I am in LOVE with. A romance series about librarians??? YES PLEASE!

Laws of attractionIt’s taken law librarian Becky Schrader a long time to stop comparing herself to her family of overachievers and hone in on what she really wants–a normal life, white picket fence and all, Mr. Dream Guy included. But before she gets ahead of herself, her girlfriends convince her she needs to let down her hair for once, meet a hot guy and let the moment take over . . .

After graduating from an Ivy League law school and practicing in New York for a few years, the plan for Foster Deacon was to return home to Denver and join the family firm, marry the right woman, shoulder his responsibilities. Except Foster’s always been a bit of a rebel, and he’s decided to suit up with his family’s rival firm. What better way to celebrate than to spend a night with a gorgeous blonde who leaves before he could say, “Good morning . . .”

Becky feels she did the right thing, leaving her lover’s bed and not her number. After all, she needs to focus on her job at Glassmeyer & Polak–until the new hire walks through the door . . . with a bad case of happily ever after.

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
(Kensington ~ March 28, 2017)

Thanks to Kensington for this copy! There is another title in this collection coming out at the end of November, and I desperately want to read this one first.

extraordinary unionAs the Civil War rages between the states, a courageous pair of spies plunge fearlessly into a maelstrom of ignorance, deceit, and danger, combining their unique skills to alter the course of history and break the chains of the past . . .

Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South—to spy for the Union Army.

Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton’s Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet—risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.

Two undercover agents who share a common cause—and an undeniable attraction—Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy’s favor. Caught in a tightening web of wartime intrigue, and fighting a fiery and forbidden love, Malcolm and Elle must make their boldest move to preserve the Union at any cost—even if it means losing each other . . .

After Midnight by Diane Shute
(She Writes Press ~ September 16, 2014)

Thanks to BookSparks for this review copy! I’m always up for historical fiction, and the world of 1830s racing world is definitely a new storyline for me. Book 2 in the series is coming out in June 2018!

After midnightAs far as Alix is concerned, she has no past only today, and her plans for the future: creating a dynamic stable of Thoroughbreds that will take the 1830s British racing world by storm. When forced into assuming the role of Lord Griffon’s wife in London, her plans are threatened by disturbing images of a castle from her past that fight to resurface. Alix is determined to find a way to take control of her life and fulfill her dreams. This women’s historical fiction novel is the first in the Midnight Series.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (MIDDLE GRADE)
(Sterling Children’s Books ~ September 5, 2017)

Thanks to WAM! Book Bundle for this copy – I am an Instagram rep for the company. All of my middle grade teacher/librarian friends are RAVING about this one, so it’s a top priority title for me! I was excited to see that it was a part of the Intermediate Bundle for October for WAM!

CACTUSAven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again.

Her new life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined. It’s hard to solve a mystery, help a friend, and face your worst fears. But Aven’s about to discover she can do it all . . . even without arms.

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth (YOUNG ADULT)
(Arthur A. Levine ~ July 30, 2013)

if i ever getI am participating in a Librarian Battle of the Books in mid-November, and this is one of the titles I assigned myself for the team. I’m really looking forward to it! I am also extra excited about it because Gansworth has another title coming out May 29, 2018 and I want to read this one first.

Lewis “Shoe” Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he’s not used to is white people being nice to him — people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family’s poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath. But when everyone else is on Evan’s side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis’s home — will he still be his friend?

Acclaimed adult author Eric Gansworth makes his YA debut with this wry and powerful novel about friendship, memory, and the joy of rock ‘n’ roll.


So, that’s what’s on my pile!

I’ll keep you posted on Instagram and Goodreads (and maybe here!) with my thoughts on each title.