Thursday, October 19, 2017

Book tour promotion - Wolves & Roses

RSVP for the WOLVES & ROSES Tour now… Get a T-Shirt Later

WOLVES AND ROSES is the new young adult shifter fairy tale by best-selling author Christina Bauer which “blends magical fantasy, swooning romance, and a bucketful of teenage sass” (Booklist) and is “a fun romp for Twilight fans” (School Library Journal).

And now they’re having a bookstore tour where you can get your copy of WOLVES AND ROSES signed, meet characters from the novel, and even take home a swag bag full of goodies… including a themed t-shirt! Bottom line? You don’t want to miss the WOLVES AND ROSES book launch tour.

Be sure to RSVP today and arrive early to the event (links down below) — there’s only a limited amount of swag bags given out on a first-come, first served basis to folks who purchase a new copy of WOLVES AND ROSES.


Barnes & Noble, Prudential Center, Boston MA
Wednesday, November 1st, 5:00 PM EST

Barnes & Noble, Framingham, MA
Thursday, November 2nd, 7:00 PM EST


Bluestockings, Manhattan
Friday, November 3rd, 7:00 PM EST


Barnes & Noble, Corte Madera, CA
Saturday, November 4th, 12:00 NOON PST



Barnes & Noble, Oakbrook IL
Wednesday, November 7th, 7:00 PM

The Book Cellar, Chicago, IL
Wednesday, November 8th, 7:00 PM CST

Graphic novel spotlight - Zen Pencils

Zen Pencils - Inspirational Quotes for Kids by Gavin Aung Than

Getting kids to appreciate inspirational quotes is a pretty tall order, so illustrating them comic book style is a genius move. The illustrations in this book are clean and tight but pretty cartoony, very appealing. They illustrate the themes of the quotes well. And the themes are repeated when appropriate. We get the female wrestler and the warrior monk several times, tying lessons together. The style and quotes are appropriate for all ages. This would be a great book to use in a classroom, either to introduce a moral lesson or in an art classroom, to inspire them to illustrate a quote on their own.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Non-fiction book review - The Comic Book Story of Video Games

The Comic Book Story of Video Games by Jonathan Hennessey

When Hennessey set out to explore the evolution of video games he doesn't mess around. Games, commercial entertainment, computers, it all gets explained. There are a lot of stages touched on, at least briefly, so there is a lot of information packed into these pages. Perhaps to much information. Serious potential for overload here. Visually its rather dense and cluttered. This is not a book to pick up for casual entertainment. If you're seriously into video games history, though, this might be the book for you.

Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Book review - Cucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom

Title: The Doughnut Kingdom
Author: Gigi D.G.
Genre: realistic fiction
Similar books: Astronaut Academy by Dave Roman
                      Luna the Vampire by Yasmin Sheikh
a quirky romp

Summary (provided by publisher): What happens when an evil queen gets her hands on an ancient force of destruction?
World domination, obviously.
The seven kingdoms of Dreamside need a legendary hero. Instead, they'll have to settle for Cucumber, a nerdy magician who just wants to go to school. As destiny would have it, he and his way more heroic sister, Almond, must now seek the Dream Sword, the only weapon powerful enough to defeat Queen Cordelia’s Nightmare Knight.
Can these bunny siblings really save the world in its darkest hour?
Sure, why not?

My opinion: This is a book that doesn't take itself too seriously. It's a little bit snarky, a little bit silly. The author takes traditional themes from novels and graphic novels alike and points out their foibles, their inherent foolishness. It's not laugh out loud funny, just clever and quirky. It has a lot of potential, though. I don't love it right now but a second volume could easily tip it into the category of "must reads'.
Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Christmas ornaments (don't be mad)

It's that time of year. The countdown to our annual craft fair has begun. And thus, I bring you today a few new Christmas ornament designs. 


Friday, October 13, 2017

Book review - The Notations of Cooper Cameron

Title: The Notations of Cooper Cameron
Author: Jane O'Reilly
Genre: realistic fiction
Similar books: All the Answers by Kate Messner
                      OCDaniel by Wesley King
intensely emotional

Summary (provided by publisher): Eleven-year-old Cooper Cameron likes things to be in order. When he eats, he chews every bite three times on each side. Sometimes he washes his hands in the air with invisible water. He invented these rituals after the death of his beloved grandfather to protect others he loves from terrible harm.
But when Cooper's strange behavior drives a wedge between his parents, and his relationship with his older sister, Caddie, begins to fray, his mother's only solution is to take Cooper and Caddie to the family cabin for the summer.

My opinion: The thing about OCD is we all have an idea of what it looks like, usually involving an inexplicable need to wash one's hands. So most portrayals are essentially the same. This one stands out because of the emotions. In particular, desperation. All of Cooper's actions have a desperate air about them. He's terribly unhappy but that mental stumbling block won't let go of him. Now, I will say Cooper is the only character that has much in the way of depth but that's okay in this case because it also reflects Cooper's increasing distance from those around him. It's not a comfortable book, certainly not one I'd recommend to an emotionally fragile child. But if you're willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone you're in for a treat.

Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Pick 6: History

I'm a fan of historical fiction for all ages, but especially for middle grade readers. I've always found historical fiction to be a good way to make a personal connection with a history lesson. It personalizes dry facts. Here are six historical fiction books, mostly for middle grade readers, published in the last six months.

6 New Historical novels

1. Lemons by Melissa Savage

2. Elsie Mae Has Something to Say by Nancy J Cavanaugh

3. Glow by Megan E. Bryant

4. Gircott by Florenz Webbe Maxwell

5. Suspect Red by L M Elliot

6. Artie Connan Doyle and the Gravedigger's Club by Robert J Harris

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Non-fiction book review - 3D Printing

3D Printing by Melissa Koch

With 3D printing becoming more cost-effective and thus more prevalent, it was only a matter of time before we got a book like this one. I was thrilled to learn more about this technology. 3 things that I, an adult reader, learned from this book: 1) There are three distinct methods of 3d printing. I was particularly impressed by the "shooting lasers into a vat of powder" method. 2) Its been around for decades. Where it's only been a part of the public awareness in the new millennium, I was shocked to learn it was invented in the 80s. 3) It has surgical applications. I knew about printing prosthetics and skin, as well as the hopes for printing organs. I didn't know that they printed models to prepare for complicated surgeries. Koch explores these and a variety of other practical and legal issues involved in the 3d printing process. A great introduction for middle graders interested in the technology.

Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Book review - Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker

Title: Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker
Author: Shelley Johannes
Genre: realistic fiction
Similar books: Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
                      Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park
quirky fun
Summary (provided by publisher): Beatrice does her best thinking upside down.
Hanging from trees by her knees, doing handstands . . . for Beatrice Zinker, upside down works every time. She was definitely upside down when she and her best friend, Lenny, agreed to wear matching ninja suits on the first day of third grade. But when Beatrice shows up at school dressed in black, Lenny arrives with a cool new outfit and a cool new friend. Even worse, she seems to have forgotten all about the top-secret operation they planned!
Can Beatrice use her topsy-turvy way of thinking to save the mission, mend their friendship, and flip things sunny-side up?

My opinion: Beatrice Zinker is more than just the humorous aspects of the nontraditional thinker. She's an absolute celebration of the unusual. Does her way of thinking get her in trouble? Of course it does, but it also gets her out of it. The element that Johannes really explores, unlike others of this genre, is how a non-traditional thinker can struggle to relate to family members and peers, especially as they get older and the pressure to fit in increases. A sweet and funny story with little nuggets of social truth.

Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Sock beasts

Sometimes you have craft supplies that seem too useful to throw out but that you have no clear plans to use. (That happens to other people, right?) I've had the feet of some knee socks sitting in my craft bins for months. With a craft fair coming up I racked my brains to come up with a plan for these socks. And these little critters are what I came up with.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Book review - Landscape With Invisible Hand

Title: Landscape With Invisible Hand
Author: M.T. Anderson
Genre: dystopia
Similar books: Shattered Warrior by Sharon Shinn
                      And All the Stars by Andrea K Host
a thinking person's book

Summary (provided by publisher): When the vuvv first landed, it came as a surprise to aspiring artist Adam and the rest of planet Earth—but not necessarily an unwelcome one. Can it really be called an invasion when the vuvv generously offered free advanced technology and cures for every illness imaginable? As it turns out, yes. With his parents' jobs replaced by alien tech and no money for food, clean water, or the vuvv's miraculous medicine, Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, have to get creative to survive. And since the vuvv crave anything they deem classic Earth culture (doo-wop music, still life paintings of fruit, true love), recording 1950s-style dates for the vuvv to watch in a pay-per-minute format seems like a brilliant idea. But it's hard for Adam and Chloe to sell true love when they ate each other more with every passing episode. Soon enough, Adam must decide how far he's willing to go—and what he's willing to sacrifice—to give the vuvv what they want.

My opinion: If a more bleak view of the future is you bag, Anderson is the author for you. There is no need to wrap up the book neatly with the promise of a better future. The humans in this book live in a generally desperate situation. Yet their desperation doesn't cause them to band together and start a rebellion. If anything they become more isolated and self-serving. And all of the issues that plague societies - uneven distribution of wealth, the collapse of the nuclear family, etc - are magnified. The plot is not entirely linear, framed instead around paintings, so it's a little strange and isn't likely to have a broad mainstream following. But if you're cool with something a little different this may be the book for you.

Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Picture books for everyone

ABCs of Physics by Chris Ferrie

Normally I wouldn't consider an alphabet book to be multi-age. Older kids, who read on their own, find "a is for apple, b is for bear" tiresome. And if this book were simply "a is for atom, b is for black hole" it would remain the domain of the very young. But it's so much more, my friends. It can be understood on three levels: identifying a word that starts with the letter in question, a brief description of the concept, and a more complex exploration. Everyone (apart from physics students and teachers, I suppose) will learn from this book. If you and your kids have even a passing interest in science, give this book a try.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Non-fiction book review - The Life and Times of Martin Luther

The Life and Times of Martin Luther by Meike Roth-Beck

How many of us can say we really know anything about the Reformation, beyond its simple existence, much less about the life of Martin Luther? Visually, this is an intriguing book. The illustrations and text blocks are styled on medieval manuscripts, using an old English typeface and woodblock style illustrations. The exploration of Luther's life isn't particularly deep. The focus is on the ways his life events influenced his eventual decision to challenge the Catholic church. Most importantly, the final pages summarized some of the major theses. It's a niche biography but a good introduction to a less known figure.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Book review - Odd & True

Title: Odd & True
Author: Cat Winters
Genre: fantasy
Similar books: Jackaby by William Ritter
                      The Diviners by Libba Bray
it will keep you guessing

Summary (provided by publisher): Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.
In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

My opinion: Initially, I was on the fence about this book. As I read, though, my appreciation increased. I started out certain that their link to the supernatural was pure fiction, the product of covering up their pain. As the plot progressed, though that certainty was weakened. And that's the brilliance of this novel. Winters is quite skilled at making us question everything that the characters experience. While the closing chapters were a touch tidier than I generally prefer, the bulk of the novel was thrilling and well paced, exploring the influence of both the supernatural and the mundane on the lives of two sisters.

Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.