Friday, December 20, 2013

The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield

Alexander Baddenfield is the last in a long line of Baddenfields, each one worse than the one before.  This means Alexander is pretty terrible.  The Baddenfields always die young but appropriately.  For example, the Baddenfield trying to hunt wild and endangered animals was trampled to death by them.

The only reason the Baddenfields live as long as they do is the Winterbottoms.  Winterbottoms have be taking care of Baddenfields for as long as anyone can remember, and Alexander and his Winterbottom are no exception.

But Alexander has come up with a new plan to do all the terrible and dangerous things he's ever wanted to do with no consequences.  He just needs to find a mad scientist doctor to take his cat's extra eight lives and transfer them to him!  It's a brilliant plan really.  Shaddenfrood just lays around sleeping and purring all day.  Alexander could be those lives to much better use.

This book is the story of how Alexander stole and used those lives, but beware, this is not some touchy-feely-becoming-a-better-person book.  Alexander is definitely bad to the bitter end.  Make sure you keep reading past "The End" for a glimpse of what will happen in his tenth and final existence!

John Bemelmans Marciano's story is funny, sinister, and disgusting, and Sophie Blackall's illustrations really take this story from bad to worse!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

This is an amazing that all begins with a vacuum cleaner, the Ulysses Super-Suction, Multi-Terrain 2000X to be exact.  When this high powered machine gets loose in the back yard, one unsuspecting squirrel will be changed forever.  That's right, one squirrel will be sucked into the rampaging vacuum and come out with super powers (but very little hair)!

Flora and Ulysses (named after the vacuum) quickly bond, and Flora must do everything in her power to save the super squirrel for arch enemies and evil cats!

But that's not all, their adventures will change Flora forever.  She'll meet new friends, make startling discoveries and maybe discover that she isn't such a hard-hearted cynic after all.

This book was great fun to read, and K. G. Campbell's illustrations and panels are wonderful!  Kate DiCamillo is also the author of Because of Winn-Dixie, and her fans won't be dissappointed.  This is a fun loving book with a heart of gold!

A Little Gift from Princess Buttercup and Me

Here is a little video Princess Buttercup and I made for you.  I hope you enjoy it.  I couldn't get an embed code for it, so just click on the image below to link to the video!

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Screaming Staircase

England is beset by ghosts, and they aren't your average chain rattling variety.  The dead refuse to leave the world of the living.  To make matters worse they are only visible to children and only a small number of children at that.  The true danger isn't in the haunting; it's in the ghost touch which is nearly always fatal causing its victims to swell up, turn blue, and die a horribly painful death.

The Problem has led to the rise of Psychic detection agencies staffed by children who are sensitive in some way to the ghosts.  Lockwood and Co. is one such agency staffed by its founder Anthony Lockwood, the slightly disgusting but analytical George, and newcomer Lucy whose gift for listening may be more powerful than she knows.

When a routine job goes wrong, and Lockwood and Co. accidentally burns down a client's house.   The trio is desperate to restore their reputation, so desperate they may be willing to take the most dangerous job yet.  But is saving the agency worth the price they'll have to pay?

This new series opener from Jonathan Stroud, author of the Bartimaeus trilogy, is filled with ghostly chills, Dickensian plucky orphans, and an intriguing mystery.  The cold weather is perfect for snuggling up under a blanket with a good book.  If you choose to go on this adventure with Lockwood and Co., you won't want to leave the covers any time soon!

Fortunately, the Milk

This short novel is just as clever and wonderful as all of Gaiman's work.  (I'm a fan.)  When the mother goes out of town leaving her children with their father, he forgets the milk for their breakfast cereal.  It takes longer than expected for him to return, and when his children demand to know where he has been, the father spins a tale of aliens, pirates, dinosaurs, cannibals, and just about everything else you can think of!

Fortunately, he manages to hold tight to the milk through all of this so he can save his children's breakfast!  I got a sneak peak of this one when I went to Neil Gaiman's reading/book signing in June.  He did a bonus reading because he loved the Majestic Theater so much!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Graveyard Book

When Nobody Owens was a baby, a man came into his home and murdered his family.  It was only because of Nobody's tendency to wander that he survived.  Nobody wandered to the graveyard nearby and was adopted by its ghostly inhabitants and the mysterious Silas who volunteers to become his guardian.

The murderer still hunts Nobody, and it is only within the walls of the graveyard that he is hidden and protected.  Nobody is happy with his spirit companions and their knowledge spanning the centuries back to the time of the Romans.  He will encounter things that are even more ancient and find a ghoul gate.  He learns the tricks of the dead:  fading, haunting, and imperviousness to dark and cold.  But even with all he can learn from his friends and playmates, he eventually becomes curious about the world of the living, and an anger for the man who murdered his family grows in his heart.

The more Bod ventures out of the Graveyard, the more dangerous his life becomes.  Can a boy named Nobody raised by those who are long dead survive in the land of the living and overcome the evil that stalks him?

This is one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors!  I just reread it in preparation for tomorrow's book club meeting, and it's just as good the second time around.

I met Neil Gaiman this summer and got my book signed in Dallas.  It was worth the drive and the hours of waiting!  If you haven't read this one yet, settle in for a wonderful and surprising experience!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Want to Win Free Books?

Blink, an imprint of Harper Collins is giving away three free books!  What do you need to do?  Send an email to by midnight on December 6, that's tomorrow, with your name and mailing address.  Ten winners will be chosen from all the entries!  I haven't read any of the books, but they look good.  Here's is the info from the publisher.

Doon (Blink, $17.99, ISBN13: 9780310742302) by coauthors Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon is an imaginative reboot of the classic Brigadoon musical. In Doon, Veronica and her best friend Mackenna travel to Scotland for the summer in hopes of finding some peace. But the Scottish countryside holds a host of secrets—including a passageway to a mysterious land that appears to be a real-life fairy tale. In the land of Doon, two handsome princes vie for the girls’ hearts. Veronica and Mackenna could have everything they’ve ever longed for… or end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that may soon become a nightmare

Aquifer (Blink, $15.99, ISBN13: 9780310731825) by award-winning author Jonathan Friesen is a new dystopian about a world where water is power, the control of people is complete, and a truth exists that the rulers will do anything to hide. In Aquifer, 16-year-old Luca has become the Deliverer, the only person permitted to connect the Toppers, who need water to survive, with the Water Rats, individuals who mine the world’s only water source, buried deep underground. As he experiences life in his new role, Luca uncovers secrets—and lies—used to tyrannize his people. And when he meets a Water Rat who captures his heart, he begins a journey to show others the truth, free his people, and fulfill a prophecy the world’s leaders have killed people to prevent from happening.

Running Lean (Blink, $12.99, ISBN13: 9780310734970) is a debut young adult novel by Diana L. Sharples. It’s a coming-of-age story that tackles the destructive realities of a serious eating disorder, along with the power of first love. Running Lean gives readers a window into the minds of two teens as they struggle with their genuine affection for one another and the complexities of life. Solving their problems could destroy their relationship, but the alternative could be much more costly.

Woohoo!  I love free books! Visit the Blink website for more info.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

For Darkness Shows the Stars

Elliot North is only seventeen, but she feels responsible for the welfare of her family's estate and all the workers under her care.  Her father and older sister are more concerned with views of the ocean than they are with feeding the people through the winter.

After her father plows under a field of wheat to build a racetrack, Elliot begins to panic.  It seems like a miracle when the Cloud Fleet wants to rent out her grandfather's house and shipyards to build a new ship that can allow them to sail even further than before.  Elliot thinks all her problems are solved until she sees Caption Malakai Wentworth, a former laborer on the North estate and now a decorated Captain in the Cloud Fleet.  Their past is more complicated than just that of servant and master; childhood friendship blossomed into love, but has now settled into resentment over the past four years of Kai's absence.

More than just the estate is at stake as Elliot battles her own feelings and Kai's coldness.  Loosely based on Jane Austen's Persuasion, Diana Perfreund's novel is a heartbreaking love story set in a post-apocalyptic science fiction landscape.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Hypnotists

Jackson Opus's life is about to go crazy.  Without warning the people around him begin to do crazy things.  Soon he discovers he has hypnotic ability.  He can bend people to do pretty much whatever he wants.  This is why he needs training at Sentia with Doctor Elias Mako.

But is Mako all he seems, and will Jax learn the truth and develop his hypnotic abilities in time?  Read Gordon Korman's newest book to find out!  This is the first book in a planned series, so look forward for more of Jax's adventures.

Also, don't forget Gordon Korman will be at the Book Festival on March 8!  Check out the Facebook page for more information!

Gaby, Lost and Found

Gaby Ramirez Howard is struggling to get along without her mother.  It's been three month's since her mother, an illegal immigrant, was deported to Honduras.  Since that time Gaby has been struggling to get through each day hoping for the time her mother will return.  For now her dad has moved in, and he's supposed to be taking care of her, but she spends most of her time alone, and sometimes he even forgets to provide food for her.

When she and her classmates start volunteering at the Furry Friends animal shelter, Gaby is happy to find something to take her mind off her troubles.  Gaby begins writing profiles for the animals to get them get adopted.  She loves all the animals, but one cat in particular captures her heart.

Feather's owners abandoned their declawed cat at a rest stop.  By the time Feather gets to the shelter she is sick and malnourished.  Gaby instantly feels a connection to the Feather.  But will she go too far in her efforts to protect the cat, and will she be able to face the truth about her mother?  Read Angela Cervantes's new book to find out.  Animal lovers and anyone who's ever felt alone will identify with Gaby and her struggles.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I saw Catching Fire last night at the special double feature premier, and it was amazing!  I loved it!  Here is another trailer; you should all go see it this week while you're enjoying Thanksgiving!

And if you still haven't read the books, what are you waiting for?  Get busy!  Here is the link to Suzanne Collins's website, and here is one to the movie site.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Taemon's world is divided.  Those with psi live in Deliverance where everything is done with telekinetic ability.  The duds, those without psi, live in the colony, ostracized from the city and all it's wonders.  Following an accident, Taemon loses his psi.

He is terrified that people will discover his secret.  Because they know he will be sent away if anyone discovers the truth, Taemon's parents try to cover for him when possible, but it's hard to live without psi in a world where no one uses their hands--not even to eat!  Even Taemon's bullying older brother tries to hide the truth because his doesn't want the stain of a dud brother.

It's not until Taemon is banished to the colony that he begins to see things in a new light.  Maybe being psiless isn't so bad, but maybe he isn't as psiless as he thinks.  Everything has always believed about his life and his people will come into question, and it will be up to him, a freakling, to prevent a war and countless deaths.

Can Taemon save himself and everyone else?  Read Lana Krumwiede's debut novel to find out!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Ok, I know this technically isn't a book, but it's based on the fairy tale, and you all know how much I love those!  Angelina Jolie is looking pretty creep!  Can't wait!

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea

Are you a Lemony Snicket fan?  Do you like funny stories with lots of action?  If so, you will love this book!

When the Templeton Twins and their inventor father move to a new town and university for a new teaching position, they have no idea how crazy their lives are about to become.

As the professor's first speech, Dean D. Dean shows up protesting that Professor Templeton stole one of his ideas.  Professor Templeton tries to calm the man down, but Dean is insistent, and things are soon out of control!  With a strict nanny, a ridiculous dog, and nefarious identical twins bent on kidnapping and extortion, this is one adventure you won't be able to put down!

You'll love this first book in the serious by Ellis Weiner, illustrated by Jeremy Holmes. and narrated by a snarky and mysterious narrator!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Divergent Movie Trailer!

Here is the official first trailer for Divergent!  Kate Winslet is in this movie?!  What?!  If you haven't read the books yet, get busy!  Here is my review of Divergent and Insurgent.  Allegiant is available for checkout in the library, but I haven't read it yet.

Now, without further ado, here's the trailer:

Monday, November 4, 2013

Long Lankin

There's a secret buried in Bryers Guerdon.  It's been haunting this village for more than 400 years, taking children, destroying lives.  It's been asleep for decades, but now it's hunger has been awakened, and Long Lankin is hunting.

It's 1958, and Cora and Mimi have been sent to live with their Great Aunt Ida in the tiny village of Bryers Guerdon.  It's clear Auntie Ida doesn't want them.  Her reaction to their arrival is almost violent, and the girls are terrified by her ancient crumbling home with its locked doors and nailed shut windows.  But there is no where else to go.

Auntie Ida warns them against going out on the marshes, and especially to never go into All Hallows, the ancient nearly abandoned church and cemetery.  But local boys Pete and Roger tell the girls they go there all the time, even though they've been warned not to.  What could it hurt?
There are strange markings inside the church, and four-year-old Mimi wants to leave.   The older children enjoy the thrill of exploring the spooky old building and grounds until Cora thinks she sees someone watching.

Have the children unwittingly unleashed an ancient terror on the village?  No one wants to talk about it, but Cora knows something is wrong.  A monster is stalking the village, and the dead have returned to the world of the living.  Long Lankin is looking for another victim.

This slow boil of a horror story is truly creepy!  I couldn't put it down, and I couldn't go to sleep.  Pay attention, this is the kind of subtle thriller that is all in the details, and a true connoisseur of dark fantasy and classic horror will recognize the warning signs and sense the approach of the beast.  Read Lindsey Barraclough's debut novel if you aren't too afraid.


Kyla is 16 years old, but she might as well be a baby for all she knows about the world.  Her lifetime experience started when she woke up in the hospital a few months ago.  Now it's time for her to leave the hospital and meet her new family.

Kyla has been slated.  In the near future teenage criminals get one more chance, one last option.  Slateds have been erased, their memories, their identities.  They are now clean slates like Kyla and the other slateds.

But something is wrong.  Kyla is not like the others.  She doesn't wear a happy grin and overlook unpleasantness.  From the beginning, she's had terrible nightmares that bring her dangerously close to the edge.  Like all slated, Kyla wears a Levo which monitors her emotions.  If you get too upset, unhappy, or angry, you risk seizure.  Try to remove it, and you risk death.

Unlike the others, Kyla questions the problems she sees around her and worries about the other slateds, especially Ben.  It isn't long before she realizes that slating isn't just used on criminals, and it doesn't always happen through official channels.  The more truth Kyla and Ben discover, the more they put themselves at risk.  Can they survive discovering the truth?

Read Teri Terry's debut novel to find out!  Fans of dystopia like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Legend will enjoy this book.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The House of Secrets

Things are not going well for the Walker family.  Dr. Walker has lost his job due to "the incident" at work, and the family finances are suffering.  So when their real estate agent shows them a beautiful old, but recently renovated, Victorian home on the waterfront, it seems too good to be true.  The fact that the homes former owner, Denver Kristoff, was a writer, and the library is full of his books is a bonus for the oldest Walker child, Cordelia.

Almost immediately upon moving in, the Walker encounter the Wind Witch, an ancient hag with terrible powers whose father owned the house.  Dahlia Kristoff, AKA the Wind Witch, seriously injures the parents and send the kids into a dangerous fantasy world which the quickly discover is a strange combination of Denver Kristoff's books.

Not only do the Walker kids have to face off against the Wind Witch, but they are challenged by deadly pirates whose captain enjoys live dissections and a band of warriors who would rather kill first and ask questions later.  That's not to mention the sharks!

Will the Walkers stay true to themselves and their family, or will they lose this battle?  Read Chris Columbus's new book to find out.  FYI, this book has a blurb from J.K. Rowling on the cover!  Columbus is the director of Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets!

Friday, October 18, 2013


This is the amazing true story of the birth of the atomic bomb that began in 1939 with the discovery that uranium plus radioactivity equals fission.  This discovery was made in Germany as WWII was was simmering, and scientists were desperate to convince Franklin Roosevelt, President of the United States, of the danger of this discovery.  It would take the urging of one of the most famous scientists in history, Albert Einstein, to convince him of America's need to begin a nuclear program.

With that decision, a team of scientists, headed by Robert Oppenheimer, was assembled to begin testing and development.  It would be a process filled with trial and error until eventual success.

Meanwhile, the Soviet Union (now Russia) was an American ally during WWII, but relations between America and Russia had never been friendly.  Once the war was over, Roosevelt knew we would be enemies again.  Therefore, America, Russia, and Germany began a secret race to develop the atomic bomb.

It wasn't a fair race.  All the sides had spies and saboteurs, and it was clear to the Allied Powers that Germany could not be allowed to develop the bomb.  At this time, Russian spies known as KGB agents were working to collect Communist sympathizers in the US to help develop their own weapon.

This book is a story of spies and science, elation and horror.  Steve Sheinkin's new book is a fast-paced must read thriller.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Young Dorothy's life in Kansas is gray and boring until she is swept up in a cyclone that deposits her and her dog, Toto, in the wonderful land of Oz.  She lands among the munchkins who are grateful to her for killing their greatest enemy, the Wicked Witch of the East, even if it was just an accident.  Despite the excitement of this new land, Dorothy quickly begins to long for home, so she heads off to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard hoping he will have the power to send her back to Kansas.

Along the way, she will meet a scarecrow longing for brains, a tin man longing for a heart, and a lion who wishes for courage.  These companions will discover wonders and face dangers in the hopes of having their wishes granted.

I've seen the moving too many times to count, but I am a little embarrassed to admit this is the first time I've read the book.  It is of course similar to the movie, but there are some core differences that were startling.  For example, rather than the constant enemy and villain she is in the movie, the Wicked Witch of the West doesn't appear until about two thirds of the way through the book!  All in all, L. Frank Baum's classic tale is definitely worth a read in its own right and as the inspiration for all the popular culture that it inspired.

Just for kicks, here is the trailer created for the 75th anniversary of the film:

Far Far Away

I am cheating a little because we don't actually have this book in the library yet.  It is on it's way, I promise!  Despite this, I had to write my review while it is still fresh in my mind because I loved this book!  It is the perfect blend of realism, fairy tale, mystery, and horror.  In fact, I'm not quite sure what section to put it in.  I should just make a section called "Awesome Books That Defy Categorization."

Jeremy Johnson Johnson hears voices, one voice in particular.  It's Jacob Grimm.  Yes, that Jacob Grimm, collector of fairy tales.  Jacob is stuck as a ghost because he has left something, he doesn't know what, undone.  He wondered the earth searching in vain for his brother Wilhelm  until he heard about the boy who could hear ghosts.  Since that time, he has been Jeremy's best friend in the small town of Never Better.

Jacob hopes that protecting Jeremy from a mysterious person known as The Finder of Occasions will help him pass on.  The only problem?  He doesn't know who this person is, only that he is a threat to Jeremy.

Aside from his friendship with a ghost, Jeremy leads a fairly lonely existence.  When his mother left years ago, his father hid away from the world in a deep depression, and Jeremy was left to fend for himself.  Now in addition to the looming specter of the Finder of Occasions, the Johnson home is in foreclosure, and Jeremy may soon be homeless.

Jeremy's life will take a turn for the interesting one day when flame-haired beauty, Ginger Boultinghouse, takes an interest in him.  Ginger starts to break loner Jeremy out of shell.  Even as Jeremy starts to feel real happiness, danger creeps ever closer.

You must read Tom McNeal's new book.  It is just so wonderful and charming and complex and steeped in the ancient world of fairy tales.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Cassie was born on the same day her town was drowned.  Old Lower Grange became a lake, and the new version of Lower Grange is shiny and new.  Even though Cassie can't remember Old Lower Grange, she feels the weight of the lost history there.  Twelve years later she still thinks about it.

Because she was born eight weeks premature, Cassie's lungs were underdeveloped, so she swims laps to help strengthen them.  One day she's had enough of the chaos of the town swimming pool and even the designated swimming area at the lake is too crowded.  Cassie decides to swim in the restricted area of the lake--the part where no one is supposed to go.

The town's long time mayor, Finkle, says it's dangerous.  There are too many places to get snagged.  But the more Cassie swims there, the more she realizes that just isn't true.  Soon she and Liam, who carries the scars of a long ago accident are meeting there to swim everyday.

The more they discover of the underwater town, the more Cassie starts to question what everyone else seems to take at face value.  Someone has a secret buried under all that water, and Cassie is determined to find the truth.

I really enjoyed this book!  Meg McKinlay manages to create an atmosphere of suspense at every turn in this book about truth and perception.  I was hooked all the way to the end!

Monday, September 30, 2013


Velvet is a young orphan in London in the year 1900.  Her mother died long ago, and even though she feels guilty about her father's death, she is still relieved to be rid of the horrible man.  She supports herself by working in Ruffold's laundry.  She is on the verge of being fired for fainting in the super-heated steamy laundry when she gets the opportunity for a promotion.

Velvet doesn't know it at the time, but that promotion will change her life.  She will leave her backbreaking job, her tiny shabby bedroom, and her nights of going hungry behind for a life of relative luxury in the home of Madame Savoya, one of the most famous mediums in London.

Velvet is happy with her life of comfort in a nice house with beautiful clothes, a full stomach, and the attentions of a handsome young man.  She is grateful to Madame for saving her life and trusts her explicitly.  Other mediums may be false, but Madame would never perpetrate such a fraud.  Would she?

Mary Hooper's new novel is set in the world of spiritualism in the year 1900 when it was fashionable to attend seances and seek guidance from "the other side" with the help of a medium.  But are these mediums really communing with the spirits, or are they clever tricksters preying on grieving people?

This book has a great start, and the ending is good, too.  It just got a bit bogged down in the middle for me.  Velvet was just a little too vain and stupid there for a while, but all in all it was an interesting book set in a fascinating time!  And it got me interested in reading some of the author's other books.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lenny Cyrus, School Virus

Lenny Cyrus is the smartest kid in school.  His parents are scientific geniuses, and he gets a free period every day to conduct his own scientific research.  Too bad he's also the most awkward kid in school.  He only really has one friend, his neighbor Harlan, and he's been a prime target for bullies since elementary school.

The day Zooey Andrews saved Lenny on the playground changed his life. Sure, he's now the biggest bully target in school after being saved by a girl, but he's also been in love with Zooey ever since.  The problem is, she barely knows he exists.

When Lenny discovers the secret to shrinking matter down to microscopic size, he thinks he's found the perfect solution.  He'll shrink himself down to the size of a virus and change her mind from the inside!

While Lenny is battling hormones and white blood cells on the inside, Zooey is trying to prepare for opening day of the play she's written and directed, but nothing seems to be going right, not even her own body!

Read Joe Schrieber's new book for an inside look at human anatomy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Road Trip

At first Ben is pretty excited to go on an impromptu road trip with his dad to rescue a border collie pup.  His dad's border collie, Atticus, is coming along for the ride, and this new dog will be Ben's.  Everything changes when Ben's dad tells him a secret he's quit his job and that they can no longer afford the hockey camp Ben was supposed to attend later in the summer.

Now Ben is furious and unwilling to talk to his dad at all, so he calls his friend, Theo, to join them.  This is just the beginning of a crazy trip that will eventually involve an old school bus, a cranky mechanic, a fed up waitress, and the highway patrolman with the department record for writing speeding tickets!

This trip was supposed to be about rescuing a dog, but it looks like there are some people who need rescuing, too!  If Atticus, the dog, has anything to say about it, everyone will get exactly was they deserve!  Join Ben, his dad, and their collection of strays in this crazy road trip.

Read Gary Paulsen's latest book written with his son Jim Paulsen.

Prisoner B-3087

Yanek's story begins in Nazi-occupied Poland.  He and other Polish Jews are imprisoned in the Krakow ghetto and subject to food shortages, work details, and violence.

But that is only the beginning.  Over the next nine years, Yanek will be separated from everyone he knows and loves and shuttled to ten different concentration/extermination camps.  Through it all, Yanek holds fast to his determination to survive no matter what.

Yanek's story is based on the true story of Jack Gruener, a real Polish Jew who survived the hardships and atrocities Yanek faces in the book.  This first hand account of life in the camps is heartbreaking and painful, but it is ultimately a story of survival against the odds.

Read Alan Gratz's novelization of Jack Gruener's real experiences! Watch the video to see and hear the real life inspiration for this book.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Navigating Early

After the death of his mother, Jack's military father who's been off fighting WWII for years moves his son to a boarding school in Maine.  Jack misses Kansas and all the people he knows and loves.  He hasn't seen his father since he was a little kid, and he is still grieving over his mother's death.

Despite all this, Jack tries to fit in at his new school.  Everything seems pretty normal except for one kid named Early who is small and strange and rarely goes to class.  After a few chance encounters, Jack reluctantly befriends this odd boy who lives in the basement and abandons classes when he disagrees with the teacher.

In math class, their new teacher tells them about the amazing pi and how a professor at Harvard thinks the number will soon end.  Early becomes distraught and leaves class.  This is when Jack discovers Early can read numbers like a story, and the tale of Pi the adventurer begins to unfold.

Abandoned by his father over Thanksgiving break, Jack decides to join Early in quest along the Appalachian trail to find a great black bear that has been terrorizing hunters and campers.  As there journey progresses, they encounter people and events that strangely mirror Pi's tale.

Clare Vanderpool's new book is a fabulous tale of adventure and survival, but it is so much more.  It's a story about faith, myth, and forgiveness.  I feel like nothing I could say here would do the book justice.  It's just wonderful!  Read it!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Wonder Show

Portia's life in the Midwest of the 1930's is not all she would like.  First, her mother dies, then her extended family of gypsies leaves, and finally, her father abandons her to the care of Aunt Sophia.  But Aunt Sophia doesn't know what to do with a girl whose heart is full of mischief and whose head is full of stories.

Once Aunt Sophia has had enough, she sends Portia to McGreavey's Home for Wayward Girls.  Here Portia is subjected to a life of misery and fear.  She hates this new life and wonders how her father will ever find her.  The one thing she remembers about Max is that he loved the circus, so when a circus comes to town, Portia decides to make her escape and begin looking for her father.

The Wonder Show is a strange collection of people with physical oddities.  They aren't like the marvels who look normal but can perform amazing feats.  No, the freaks include a bearded lady, conjoined twins, a giant, and a little person among others.  Portia's search for her family continues as she becomes a part of the circus herself.

Monday, August 26, 2013

PB's Picks!

I know you've all been waiting in anticipation to see what Princess Buttercup recommends from this year's reading lists.  It won't surprise you to learn that two of the books are about rescuing animals.  Princess Buttercup came to me through an animal rescue program, Purr Paws, and we will both be forever grateful to them for bringing us together!

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Kira has always been different.  With her yellow eyes and unique ability to sense the demons hiding inside the bodies of those around her, the people have developed a fear and loathing for the body guard of the prince.  It doesn't help that her uncle, the king, has forbidden anyone to reveal the presence of demons in their midst for fear the people will panic.

Despite her outcast status, Kira is determined to keep the kingdom and especially her young nephew, Prince Taejo safe from the demon threat.  Everything changes when enemy forces, lead by demon possessed rulers sweep through the seven kingdoms destroying everything in their path.  Now that these Yamato warriors are at the gate of her beloved Hansong, Kira must do everything she can to help the prince escape the violence.

All seems lost until the monks remind everyone of an ancient prophecy at a Dragon Musado, a great warrior with will unite the seven kingdoms and destroy the demon threat once and for all.  Could this prophecy have something to do with Kira and Prince Taejo?

Ellen Oh's debut novel is set in a fantasy version of ancient Korea and mixes history and fantasy to tell this fast paced adventure tale!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Family for the War

Ziska Mangold is not really Jewish.  Yes, her ancestors were, but her grandparents converted to Christianity years ago, so she has grown up as a Christian.  None of this matters when things start to get bad in Germany.  She faces the same persecution as the orthodox Jews in the neighborhood.

By the time things become dire for Ziska's family, it's almost impossible to leave the country.  She doesn't understand why the Nazis won't let the Jews leave if they hate them so much.  This is when Ziska's mother learns about the kindertransport.  Jewish children are loaded on trains and sent to live with foster families in England for the duration of the war.

Ziska is horrified that her mother wants to send her away.  How can she be safe and happy if her family has abandoned her?

My Family for the War is Ziska's story of growing up and coming to terms with a new life and family forced on her by Hitler and the Nazi party.  She will discover new struggles and fears in this life, but she will also find friendship and love.  As painful as her struggles can sometimes be, the happy times are bittersweet as she remembers those she left behind in Nazi occupied Europe.

Anne C. Voorhoeve's novel gives the reader a window into life for Jews in England during the war and the far reaching and painful effects of conflict.

To learn more about the kindertransports, watch this video:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Poison Most Vial

Ruby Rose has a problem.  Well, she has several problems.  She and her father have moved from her beloved home in rural Arkansas to the city where she has to attend the DeWitt school which is full of snobby super smart kids; Ruby's dad is a janitor at the college.

Now on top of everything, the famous Dr. Ramachandran, head of forensics in the college has been murdered.  And who do you think the prime suspect is?  That's right, Ruby's dad.

Ruby is desperate to prove her father's innocence, and it doesn't seem like the police are looking any further.  With the help of her best friend, Rex, a Jamaican boy with a large appetite and a larger sense of humor, Ruby begins to investigate.  She's making progress on her own, but when she connects with a reclusive former forensic pathologist, things really get going.

As Ruby works to prove her father's innocence, she may also discover that her new life isn't as terrible and lonely as she once thought.  Read Benedict Carey's new mystery to find out if Ruby can solve the case and clear her father's name.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Perfect Scoundrels

Let me just start by saying I love this series!  Globe-trotting adventure, romance, intricate heists, crazy characters--what's not to love?  This is the third installment of Ally Carter's Heist Society series, and it delivers on everything I've come to expect.

Katarina Bishop is no stranger to difficult situations and intricate plots, but this time is different.  This time it's about Hale.  His grandmother, head of Hale Industries, has died, and Hale seems more distant than ever.  He's been named the heir with a trustee until he comes of age, and Kat is beginning to wonder if her relationship with Hale and his connection to her family of thieves and grifters was just a vacation from reality.

To make matters worse, Kat gets a tip off that the will is fake.  Is Hale really the mark in an elaborate plot?  Will Kat be able to uncover the truth and salvage Hale's dignity and their relationship at the same time?

Kat will need all her wits and her entire team from every corner of the globe to pull of her biggest Heist yet!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily began life as an abandoned infant taken in by Tik Tok, the Shaman of the Sky Eaters.  Her status as an abandoned child means many in the tribe have always found it is easy to bully and demean her, but she has always been strong and independent.

That strength is what draws Tinker Bell to her.  Fairies don't generally stray far from home, but Tinker Bell is intrigued by this girl who barely acknowledges her existence.

The tribe has an uneasy alliance with the pirates, a dark and dangerous group, but there is one other the Sky Eaters fear even more.  This enemy is so dangerous, none of the people ever ventures even close to his lands.  According to all accounts, he is murderous, heartless, and ruthless.  His name is Peter Pan.

After a chance encounter, Tiger Lily seeks him out, and she quickly falls in love.  Her life now has two distinct halves.  During the days, she lives her normal life in the village, plagued by heartbreak and worrying changes.  At night, she goes to the burrow to the life of the lost boys.  It is a life of play and exhilarating danger.

But Tiger Lily has lived a life of pain and rejection, and she is terrified to express her true feelings.  Can she really trust Peter Pan?  And is her dual life distracting her from dangerous changes in her own village?

Jodi Lynn Anderson's Neverland is a magical but dark place filled with heartbreak and pain, but there is also a chance for happiness if Tiger Lily and the others can recognize the truth in front of them.

Bad Girls

From Delilah to Bonnie Parker, this book is a collection of mini biographies about bad girls throughout history.  Each lady has a two or three page biography with an illustration followed by an argument between our two our two authors about how bad that lady actually was.  These discussions are presented in graphic novel format as an ongoing discussion between the mother/daughter author team.

There is nothing really in depth about the women in the book, but it's strength is really in encouraging readers to view the women in their historical context and to reserve judgement.

This quick and fun read by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple should encourage readers to find out more about the women so they can get the facts and draw their own conclusions.

Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls

It's the last day of Nora's junior year of high school in 1956, and she has planned a long summer of parties, swimming, and relaxation with her friends.  Little does she know this is the day that will change her life and the lives of everyone else in her town.

No one really thought anything of it when Cheryl and Bobbi Jo didn't show up for the last day of school.  It's not until Nora and her best friend, Ellie, are headed home that they realize something terrible has happened.  Cheryl and Bobbi Jo are dead, shot and left in the woods.
Everyone is sure Buddy is killer.  He's Cheryl's ex, and everyone knows he's been stalking her since the breakup.  It's obvious he killed them...but what if he didn't?

Nora can't seem to shake out of the fear and anger over the deaths.  She spends all her time in bed questioning everything, especially once everyone else finds a reason to leave for the summer.

Based on a real life murder that has haunted author, Mary Downing Hahn, since she was in high school, this is a powerful story about all the victims of a murder, the living and the dead, and the lasting effects of tragedy.

Warning to usual fans of the author:  This book is much heavier and more mature than Hahn's other stories.  It's a real tragedy rather than a ghost story.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

33 Minutes

Sam Lewis and Morgan Sturtz used to be best friends, but in exactly 33 minutes Morgan is going to kick Sam's butt.  Why?  Well, that's kind of a long story.

Only a year ago, the had the best day ever with an all day marathon of Alien Wars, their favorite video game.  They were a power team with each player using his own strengths and defending the other's weakness.  What could tear such awesomeness apart you ask?

Well, things have been changing for a while.  Morgan just keeps getting bigger and more athletic, and Sam just keeps staying the same size and getting smarter.  Despite this, the Wagner Middle School's star football player and star ArithmeTitan remained close.

The real problems started with Chris Tripadero.  Sam was leery of the new kid, but Morgan always wanted to hang out with Chris, and slowly but surely, Chris began to take Sam's place as Morgan's best friend.  What does Sam have against Chris?  For starters, he's a jerk.  Also, his parents are never around to say things like, "Hey, maybe you shouldn't throw that (fill in the blank) off the roof; you might hurt someone."

Now, instead of hanging out with his best friend, Sam is nervously counting down the minutes said best friend kicks his butt.  Will the butt kicking actually happen, or is there still a chance for Sam and Morgan to be friends?

Read Todd Hasak-Lowy's funny, painful, and poignant story of middle school and friendship.  This is a great story that had me laughing out loud on one page, and heartbroken on the next.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Here's another sequel alert!  If you haven't read Cinder yet, stop now and get a copy!  Cinder was one of my favorite books of last year, and I've been eagerly anticipating the sequel since I finished it.  I have to admit, I was a little annoyed, like I always am, when I discovered the sequel added a new protagonist.  That being said, author Marissa Meyer quickly won me over!  The new characters in this book only enhance the mystery and conspiracy we tasted in Cinder.

Scarlet is angry.  No one is looking for her grandmother.  Grand-mere disappeared from their farm in rural France three weeks ago, and the police have given up the search already.  Scarlet will never be satisfied until she finds the only person who's ever cared for her.  On top of all this, she's annoyed that every seems so quick to judge that Linh Cinder girl on the news.  She's just a kid; it's not her fault she's a cyborg.  What can she have done that's so horrible she deserves everyone's scorn?

As she's making a produce delivery to one of the farm's best clients, she meets a handsome and hungry stranger who's never tasted a tomato.  She is both attracted and repelled by Wolf.  But she soon becomes suspicious that Wolf is involved in her grandmother's disappearance even though he insists he isn't.  Soon Scarlet is on a journey to find her grandmother with Wolf in tow.  Can she trust this Wolf?

Meanwhile, Cinder is still reeling from her discovery that she is the long lost Lunar Princess Selene, and she has no intention of falling into Queen Lavana's hands and certain death.  In her escape from prison, she makes a miscalculation and ends up with an actual criminal in tow.  The good news is, Thorne seems pretty harmless, and he has a ship.  With a new foot and hand and her Lunar gift unlocked, Cinder is better equipped than ever but wracked with guilt over her ability to bend others' perception of reality.

How are Cinder and Scarlet connected, and how can these two girls stand against the powerful Lunar queen whose ultimate plan is coming to fruition with violence and terror?  Read Marissa Meyer's action packed sequel to find out.

Sunday, June 30, 2013


If you haven't read Legend yet, STOP READING NOW, find a copy, read it, and then return!  I really liked Legend, so I've been looking forward to reading the sequel since it came out earlier this year.  I hoped it would be good, and I was not disappointed.  It is awesome!  Prodigy is the perfect blend of action and character development.  The plot never lags, and the characters become even more developed and refined.

June and Day are on the run from the Republic after Day's supposed execution at the end of Legend.  Day is suffering from an extreme leg injury which makes their journey to Vegas even more difficult.  If they can make it, they'll join up with the Patriots and do whatever it takes to  get Day's little brother, Eden, back.

But is June prepared to do what the Patriots want?  The Elector Primo is dead, and his son, Ander, is now in power.  The Patriots have a plot to assassinate the new Elector and start a revolution.  June will have to become a double agent to lure the new Elector into the Patriots trap.  She's willing to do it for Day.

Day has no problem with the assassination plot.  He hates the Elector, the Republic, and the entire elite class for all they've taken from him.  Besides, the Patriots have promised to help him get Eden back when all this is over.  Then they can all escape to the Colonies.

Both Day and June had to face revelations and question realities in Legend, but now the world seems to fall apart and reorganize at every turn.  Who can they trust in this world falling apart?  The Patriots?  The Colonies?  Each other?

Read Marie Lu's fabulous sequel to find out!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ender's Game

If you've never read Ender's Game and you're a sci-fi fan, get reading!  The movie is about to come out, so you need to get busy with your reading now.

In the future, Earth is at war, and Ender is one of a group of children recruited for military and tactical training.  He will find friends and enemies in his new life, but these children are our last hope for survival.  Can they save us, or are we doomed to death at the hands of hostile alien invaders?

That is a short promo because it's been a while since I read it, but this book is so good!  Not only is it a great story, but there are some completely awesome training scenes.

Read it!  And visit Orson Scott Card's website find some of his other titles.

New Trailer for City of Bones!

Serendipity and Me

Sara loves cats.  She has cat posters, cat slippers, stuffed animal cats, everything  but an actual cat.  Her dad's answer is always no.

They are both struggling with grief over her mother's death when Sara gets the flu.  She is home feeling sick and alone when a kitten appears at their front door.  Sara just knows she can convince her dad to fall in love with this sweet little kitten named Serendipity, but her dad doesn't want to budge.

Sara and her dad feel separated from the world and each other by their grief, and Serendipity is warm and soft.  The kitten comforts Sara in a ways she hasn't felt for a long time.  It will rip her heart out all over again if she has to give Serendipity up.

In her quest to find a way to keep Serendipity, Sara discovers some truths about her parents' past and the reason her dad refuses to get a cat.  Maybe Serendipity can help both of them to begin to heal after all these years.

Judith L. Roth's new book is a bittersweet little verse novel about the debilitating and isolating power of grief and the love and companionship we can find with our pets.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Strands of Bronze and Gold

When Sophia's father dies, she and her older siblings are left in difficult financial circumstances.  It seems like a stroke of good luck when she receives an invitation from her mysterious and wealthy godfather.  Not only does he want to support Sophia, but he might be able to help her brothers and sister, as well.

Sophia leaves Boston for Wyndriven Abbey in Mississippi, and in 1855 the two are worlds apart.  Monsieur de Cressac plies Sophia with beautiful clothes, fine food, and the wonders of his home and estate.  He is charming and attentive, and Sophia is quick to overlook the problems in her new life.

Sophia has always been opposed to slavery, but she has never really been confronted with the practice before.  She is unsettled by M. de Cressac's reliance on slavery, but he waves her objections away.  When she headed for her new life Sophia believed she would live with de Cressac and his wife, but once she arrives, she discovers his wife is dead, and she silently questions the propriety of living with an unmarried man.

At first M. de Cressac's charm sweeps away her objections, but the longer she lives at Wyndriven Abbey, the more she discovers about her godfather, his disturbing past, and his volatile temper.

Jane Nickerson's Southern Gothic version of the Bluebeard fairy tale is lush, dark, beautiful, and dangerous.


The longest friendship of Kami Glass's life is with someone she's never met.  For as long as she can remember, he has been there as a presence in her mind to comfort and cajole her.  She learned a long time ago to stop talking to her parents and other friends about Jared.  Only crazy girls hear voices in their heads, right?

Life is about to get a little crazier for everyone in the small town of Sorry-in-the-Vale in the English Cottswolds.  The Lynburns, who own the manor house outside the village, have been gone for years, but now they're back.  The murmurs from older generations that even Kami's mother won't explain are now becoming more frequent.

Things get more intense when Ash and Jared, the Lynburn cousins, join Kami working on the school newspaper.  Her mother, and everyone else, warns her to stay away from them, but Kami just can't. Ash is beautiful and light and charming.  Jared is dark and brooding and handsome.

Kami and her team are investigating a series of strange events starting with slaughtered animals and progressing to attacks on people.  Is this violence connected to the return of the Lynburns?  Could it be there is more to the world than Kami ever dreamed possible?  And will her new friends lead to romance or danger?

Fans of The Mortal Instruments, Beautiful Creatures, and The Wolves of Mercy Falls will love Sarah Rees Brennan's new series starter!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Etiquette & Espionage

Sophronia has always been more interested in taking things apart and climbing trees than proper dress and conversation, so she is horrified when she learns her mother is sending her to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But it doesn't take long for for her to realize this is no ordinary finishing school.  for one thing, the school is tethered to a series of balloons floating around the moors.  One of her teachers is a hot werewolf, and another is a fashion obsessed vampire.  She is learning to be a lady, but she is also learning self-defense, knife skills, and intelligence gathering.  Graduates learn to finish in more ways than one.  To top it all off, she seems to have made an enemy on her first day there.

With a mysterious prototype missing and the school menaced by flywaymen, Sophronia isn't waiting around for someone else to have all the adventures and solve this mystery!

Set in a steampunk Victorian England, this novel is full of mystery, adventure, evil plots, and even a few mechanimals.  Read Gail Carriger's debut novel for young adults and join in the fun!  Plus, how awesome is that cover!  I knew I had to read it as soon as I saw it!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

True Legend

Drew "True" Robinson is already a star, and he's headed for NBA.  Everyone knows it including the ultra  rich Seth Gilbert who "discovered" Drew playing street ball in New York and moved him and his mom to California complete with a private school, a house, and a job for his mom.  But Darlene Robinson isn't buying all the hype; she knows Gilbert wants to be the man next to man.

Even Drew's best friend covers for him in school making sure his grades are high enough and giving him rides.  And his high school coach leaves pretty much everything up to Drew from practice schedules to plays on the court.

The problem is Drew is starting to believe the hype.  Why should he worry about school when it's just a stepping stone to the NBA?  Why should he worry about being a team player when everyone knows he's the real star?

One night Drew will meet someone on the playground who will force him to face reality, to see the truth of what his life has become.  Is it too late for Drew to become the real "True" Robinson?

Read Mike Lupica's latest sports story about living with integrity, especially when you're a star.

Smart Girls Get What They Want

Gigi, Neerja, and Bea have been best friends since kindergarten. They do everything together, and they're three of the smartest girls in their class.  Maybe they aren't the most popular girls in school--ok, most people don't even know who they are--but they aren't too worried about it.  They know the real fun will start in college.

But something happens to show them that maybe they are missing out on too much by not participating in high school life, and they make a plan.  They are the smartest girls in school, and there's no reason they can't have everything they want including grades, athletics, arts, student government, and maybe even cute guys!

Join these three friends on their journey to get the most out of life as they realize smart girls may not know everything, but they can get what they want if they put their minds to it.

This is Sarah Strohmeyer's first book for YA's, and it's a great ride through high school and teen romance.

Monday, June 3, 2013


When Auggie was born, the doctors didn't expect him to survive, but he did, and now, even after multiple surgeries, he has so many facial deformities that he hates going out in public.  He's never even been to school before.  All that is about to change.

August Pullman is beginning his fifth grade year at Beecher Prep.  He knows it will be a challenge, but for some reason, he's ready to move on.  There's no way he can blend in, and at first he struggles to find a place for himself in the sometimes heartbreaking world of middle school.  People can be cruel, sometimes even your friends.

Told from multiple perspectives, R.J. Palacio's first book explores what the world is like for someone who is constantly in a negative spotlight because of his appearance.  I can't really tell you much more than that because I don't want to ruin the story, but you MUST read this book and always remember to be a "little kinder than is necessary."

And because I haven't been able to get this song out of my head since Palacio quoted it at the beginning of the book, here's a little Natalie Merchant for you.  :)

Girl Stolen

Imagine you are sick and sleeping in the back seat of your mom's SUV while she goes into the pharmacy to pick up your prescription.  A stranger casually gets in the car, starts the engine, and drives away without even realizing you are there.  Now imagine you are blind.

This is exactly what happens to Cheyenne Wilder one cold December day.  Cheyenne is terrified and miserably sick with pneumonia.  As she struggles to think of some way to save herself, she finally realizes she will have to let the carjacker know she is there.  Maybe he will let her go, especially once he knows she can't recognize his face.

Griffin can't believe his luck!  A practically brand new Cadillac Escalade just sitting there in the shopping center parking lot with the keys in the ignition.  Surely his dad will be proud when he sees this beauty.  Once he notices Cheyenne in the back seat, everything changes.  Griffin isn't a kidnapper, but he doesn't want to go to jail.  Can he keep Cheyenne from harm and protect himself?

Things quickly spiral out of control in April Henry's story of a carjacking gone awry.  I read this suspenseful book in one sitting because I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next!