Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer reading 2014 Dorothy's Derby Chronicles: Rise of the Undead Redhead


I confess, I am not a skater and I tend to land on my behind A LOT when I attempt to skate. But you don't have to be a skater to enjoy this book (lucky for me). Dorothy and her sister Samantha have come to live with their wacky grandmother while their mom tries to become a singing star in Nashville. Grandma Sally lives in the top two floors of the funeral home where she used to run the mortuary. She sold the business to a young couple, but still owns and lives in the building. With closets made of old coffins and couches made from gurneys, the building's past is very obvious. To make matters worse, Sally drives the girls to the first day at their new schools in a hearse! Things go downhill fast from that point. But, in spite of all the changes and embarrassments, Dorothy does manage to make some friends and without really planning it, they become a roller derby team.

This is the first in a series that will feature Dorothy and her teammates. The debut story shows a girl finding friends and a sense of family with girls who are all very different from each other - a big contrast with the blond "Pompoms" who seem to live for the chance to humiliate Dorothy at school. Readers will appreciate how girls of various ethnic backgrounds, academic skills, and body types all come together as a team. Great for middle grade readers, whether they enjoy sports or not. The series has its own YouTube page for news and information.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It will be released in stores on July 1, 2014.

P.S. My sister, Megan, was on the Hard Knox Rollergirls team for a while. Here are some photos she and her teamates took. Megan is the one on the left in this first photo.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Reading 2014 Oliver and the Seawigs


Oliver Crisp's parents are explorers and for 10 years they have traveled the world, taking Oliver with them. Now they have decided that all the great unknowns have been seen and they are returning home. Imagine how surprised they are to discover a dozen mysterious islands in the bay near their house. They pull out the dinghy and immediately set off to explore while Oliver begins to unpack. When he goes out to check on them, the islands are gone and so are his parents. That is why a boy who dreams of staying home and going to school winds up on yet another journey, but this time it is a quest to find his parents.

With a talking albatross, Rambling Isles, mermaids, sarcastic seaweed, and even sea monkeys - this is an amusing book. The many illustrations bring the characters to life and make it a quick read. Oliver is a brave and intelligent hero who uses all the skills he has learned on his travels to rescue his mom and dad. I would enjoy seeing more adventures with Oliver and his friends. I had previously read the author's book, Goblins, and enjoyed it; this new title is a very different style of story and shows what a variety Mr. Reeve can create.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It will be released on July 22,  2014.

For more information about the creators of the book, visit the author's website or the 
illustrator's, or watch the trailer for the book, or the video where the creators talk about working on the book together.

*NOTE - We just added this book to the Fairview library. (August 1,2015)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Reading 2014 Rose and the Magician's Mask

In Rose's third adventure, the evil sorcerer that tried to steal Princess Jane has managed to carry off a Venetian mask that was on display in the palace. Mr. Fountain is very worried, because the mask is a powerful magical artifact. When the king sends him off to Venice to investigate the theft, Rose, Freddie and Bella travel with him. Rose is thrilled with the chance to see the world since she has never been outside London, and the thought of the canals and gondolas seems like something from a fairy tale. But when she and Bella take a walk outside the British embassy and are attacked by a gang of ruffians, suddenly it doesn't seem like such a wonderful place. With the help of Gus and the faithful Bill, the children do their best to uncover what Gossamer and Venn are plotting and whether the Doge of Venice is involved or just another of the sorcerer's victims.

Rose's magical abilities and personality are revealed with each story in the series. Her humble beginnings at the orphanage keep her grounded and sensible in a way that the children born into the elite magical families are not. As she struggles to learn as Mr. Fountain's apprentice, she also tries to maintain her friendships with the other servants in the household (other than the odious Susan). Rose is such a lovable character that we can't help but cheer for her triumphs.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It will be released in stores on September 2, 2014. We have added a copy of this book to our library.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Demon Notebook Blog Tour

Author Erika McGann was kind enough to let my students interview her.  Here are their questions and her answers:

1. Why did you choose the title, The Demon Notebook?

The book always had that title, even before I started writing. I knew the notebook would be important for the girls, something that the demon would latch onto. And I think, as a title, it sounds a little bit creepy too.

2. Where did you get your inspiration for the story?

It’s based on me and my friends at school. We were also aspiring witches – we were also terrible at it. Unfortunately ­– or should I say fortunately – we never discovered real magic. The book is my take on what would have happened if we had gotten everything we wanted back then. I’m glad we didn’t!

3. Why did you choose to write a scary story?

I loved scary stories when I was younger. I was a big fan of the Point Horror series as a pre-teen and, when I started writing my own book, I wanted to go back to that feeling of being afraid but eager to read on. We all enjoy being a little bit scared now and then.

4. How did you choose the names of the characters?

The characters are based on my friends from secondary school, and we’re all still very close. I didn’t name characters directly after them, but they’re similar. 

5. How long have you been writing?

I’m a bit of a newbie to writing. I loved coming up with stories when I was very young, but stopped in my teens and didn’t take it up again until my late twenties. The Demon Notebook was my first go at it, so I’ve only been writing for a few years.

6. How did you come up with the wishes that the girls have recorded in the notebook?

Some of them were actual failed spells of mine as a teenager! I remember trying to make a boy pee his pants in school because he’d been mean to one of my friends. Looking back, I’m so glad it didn’t work. I would have felt really bad.

7. Why does Andrew Wallace pick on the girls? Is he just being mean, or is doing that boy thing of aggravating a girl he likes?

No, he definitely doesn’t have a crush on Grace or the other girls. He’s just being mean.

8. How did the demon well get there, since it was there before the school was built?

It’s always been there. It’s a soft spot in the world where beings can travel between planes so, given the right conditions, demons can slip through. It’s not visible to the naked eye, though, so over the years there were various changes to that piece of land. Eventually, there was a new block of St John’s school built right on top of it.  

9. What does the demon well actually look like?

You can’t see it but, if you’re magically inclined, you may be able to sense it. In the sequel, The Broken Spell, we travel back in time and see how another young group of witches discovered the well, and what that meant for Grace and her friends in the future.

10. What does the demon look like when it isn't possessing someone's body?

Black mist. They can’t take corporeal form in our world, so when they emerge from the well they’re in a smoky state that’s easily dispersed unless they find a host quickly. The mist forms a kind of body shape as it reaches out for someone to possess. The girls see this first hand – it’s one of the scarier moments in the book!

Book Description (as shared on
What will they do when their "harmless" curses suddenly start coming true?
Grace and her four best friends, Jenny, Rachel, Adie, and Una, are failed spell casters-and they have a notebook full of useless spells to prove it. But one night, when they use a Ouija board for the first time, they stumble upon real magical powers-and their notebook takes on a diabolical life of its own. The girls watch, helpless, as one by one, their spells start to work, moving relentlessly toward the worst one of all...Can Grace and her friends stem the wave of powerful magic before disaster strikes?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer Reading 2014 File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents

This collection of short mysteries all take place in Stain'd-by-the-Sea, where Lemony Snicket is working as an apprentice in a secret organization. Although he is trying to solve a very big mystery, he becomes known for helping to solve smaller problems and is asked by many residents to do just that. Many of these lesser mysteries involve stolen property such as silver spoons, newts, dogs, nails, and even boards. There are also reports of demons and ghosts and a runaway child. Each mystery's solution is listed in the back of the book. The reader may look up Snicket's solution and see if it is the answer to the mystery that they expected.

Snicket's command of vocabulary and his dry wit continue to amuse readers in this latest book, but the small mysteries are not as satisfying as a full-length adventure would be. It would make a nice brain-teaser to read aloud a different mystery to a class (or group of friends) each day and see if anyone could solve it. There is a video of the author talking about the book.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It was published on April 1, 2014.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Summer Reading 2014 Star Wars: Jedi Academy : Return of the Padawan


It's year two at the Jedi Academy for Roan and his classmates. He's so eager to get to school that he actually mis-remembers the date and arrives a week early. Roan thinks things will be much easier this year since he has friends, but he manages to upset Pasha's father, then Pasha, and Gaiana. He has trouble with Cronah, Cyrus, and Jo-Ahn making mean comments about him on Holobook. He has trouble with public speaking class, um, like, um, you know. Mr. Garfield always finds some reason to mark down his grade in Flight Training class, no matter what he does. There are some fun field trips to Hoth and the Imperial Senate. a light saber tournament, a group project building a droid, and a class pet Voorpak. It's funny how similar the Jedi Academy is to school here on Earth. There are tests, homework, trips to the Principal's office, even an epic food fight. And, of course, learning to be a good friend and learning who are your true friends is all a part of growing up. Roan learns more of those lessons than he does the academic skills, but that's okay.

Still funny and great for Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Star Wars fans - recommended for all middle-grade readers.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It's scheduled for release on July 29, 2014.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer Reading 2014 Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library


Wow! This book has everything you need for a great read - a fabulous new library, a competition involving the library, lots of references to great books, characters to love and root for, and at least one character to heartily dislike. Mr. Lemoncello has donated the money to build a brand-new public library for his hometown. There is an essay contest to choose twelve 12-year-olds to be the first patrons to explore the new library. Once the kids are chosen, they get to visit the library and try out all the gaming systems, books, holographic displays, and the snack shop. They also learn that they can participate in another competition with the winner earning the right to star in commercials for Mr. Lemoncello's gaming products. The heart of the game is to find your way out of the library without using the front doors or emergency exits and doing it within 24 hours. There are trivia questions, a scavenger hunt, rebus puzzles, codes and more included in the game. Will the characters we like the most defeat the annoying boy who places winning above every other value?

I met the author at the Knoxville Children's Festival of Reading this year. He was one of the speakers that participated in the big 10th Annual Festival and he read aloud the beginning of the book to us. I was hooked right away. The story reminds me of The Westing Game, but also has elements that are like The Mysterious Benedict Society. And if you think I am dropping a lot of titles into my comments, just wait until you see how often Mr. Lemoncello works literary references into his remarks. That was probably one of my favorite parts of the book, watching for the next reference and thinking, "I've read that!" This is a great book for book lovers, game players, and anyone who enjoys a good story.

For more information about Chris and his books, check out his website.

Children's Festival of Reading May 17, 2014

The Picture Book Panel - including our friend Jessica Young

Ms. Costner with her "keypal" Toni Buzzeo

Andrea Davis Pinkney reading one of her books to the crowd

Brian Pinkney sketching his wife Andrea

Toni Buzzeo acting out Stay Close to Mama with help from volunteers

Chris Grabenstein reading Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Zachariah Ohora drawing Bernard from Stop Snoring, Bernard

Ms. Costner with Clifford the Big Red Dog

Summer Reading 2014 Leroy Ninker Saddles Up: Tales from Deckawoo Drive #1


Kate DiCamillo fans everywhere, rejoice! In this return to the neighborhood of Mercy Watson, Kate tells the story of a man on a quest. To be specific, it is the story of a cowboy in search of a horse. Leroy Ninker works at the Bijou DriveIn Theater and loves watching the Western double features each week. He dreams of being a cowboy and wears boots, a hat, and a lasso - but he has no horse. How can he be a cowboy if he can't ride off into the sunset? So he searches the "for sale" ads to find a horse and finds Maybelline. Leroy is a tiny little man who is hugely funny, especially when you combine him with his horse. The way he talks to and feeds Maybelline will draw chuckles from readers of all ages.

If you enjoy Kate's other books, particularly the style of her Mercy Watson stories, then you must read Leroy Ninker Saddles Up. It will have you calling out, "Yippie-i-oh!" before you know it. For those who haven't tried a DiCamillo book yet, this warmhearted story of a man pursuing his dream (and his horse) is a great introduction to her work.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It will be released in stores on August 26,  2014.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Reading 2014 Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor

As funny as a chapter-book version of Robot Zot! Frank Einstein is staying with his grandpa Al in his Fix It shop while Frank's parents are traveling in Antarctica. He combines some of the spare parts and broken appliances lying around and makes a robot, which he tries to charge up with an electrical storm. That experiment fails, but later that night a stray spark causes part of the robotic brain to begin working and Klink assembles himself - a robot with artificial intelligence capable of learning and becoming smarter. Klank also assembles himself, mostly, but without the computing power of Klink's brain. Together with Frank and his friend Watson, they work to build a winning entry in the Midville Science Contest. But will Frank's nemesis, T. Edison, take the prize and Frank's best ideas?

Jon Scieszka is always funny and this book is no exception to that rule. He makes Frank's fascination with science into something entertaining and fun. I know many readers will be wishing for their own robots and antimatter motors by the time they finish the story. The illustrations and the extra material in the back matter just add to the overall zaniness. (And the references to Professor Poopypants are helpful, too.)

Readers of all ages who enjoy inventions, gadgets, and scientific theories will be laughing out loud and cheering for Frank Einstein - and eagerly awaiting his next adventure.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It will be published August 19, 2014.  In the meantime, visit Jon's website or follow him on Twitter

Update: We added a copy of this book to our library through our Fall Scholastic Book Fair.

Summer Reading 2014 Zombie Halloween (Goosebumps Most Wanted Special Edition #1)


I need to ask you, if you ran to your mother and told her that zombies were in you basement would she: a) tell you that the joke was not funny, b) say that you have been watching too many horror movies and violent video games, or c) very calmly say, "I know...the real estate agent warned me," well? Unfortunately for Mario Manzetti, the answer is C. His mother took the house because it as all she could afford and didn't warn her sons, which is where all the problems began...back in 1944. Now it is the present day and Mario is a grandfather. His son's family has moved into the family house with him and his grandson Kenny's favorite video game is "The Walking Zombies." Little does Kenny realize, there may be more zombies in the world than just the ones on his TV screen. I'll leave the rest to your imagination, or to the author's imagination, that is. Zombie Halloween is sure to be another best seller for the master of fright.

I must confess, Goosebumps were not around when I was a kid (although my younger brother and sister both read them). However, I know how incredibly popular they are with my students. So when I saw that a new book was coming soon, I wanted to check it out (a little library humor there). The fact that zombies were the main monsters of the story was also a reason to read it. I love books like World War Z and Rot and Ruin, and I was curious how Stine would approach the subject. He manages to make it scary without being over the top in the gore department.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It will be released in stores on June 24, 2014.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Summer Reading 2014 The School Is Alive! (Eerie Elementary #1)


Sam Graves has a problem. He has been appointed the hall monitor for his school,Eerie Elementary. It's bad enough when he thinks the job is reminding everyone to get to class on time and not to run in the hallways. But when he tries to retrieve someone's lost cap from the playground and he's nearly swallowed by quicksand, Sam knows that there is something strange going on. Although his friends don't believe him, Sam is sure that he can hear a heartbeat and feel the school breathing through the ventilation system. Weird things keep happening with locker doors, fire hoses, and the oak trees on the lawn. The night of the school play, events are more dramatic than the teachers and parents had expected them to be. Lucky for them - Sam is on the job! 

This is perfect for early chapter book readers who are looking for some thrills and chills, but aren't quite ready for the length of a Goosebumps book. The story line will appeal to those who enjoy things like the Black Lagoon adventures or the Bailey School Kids series. Keep an eye out for more adventures with Sam, Antonio, Lucy, and Mr Nekobi.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It will be released in stores June 24, 2014.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Summer Reading 2014 Red Riding Hood Gets Lost


This series is so much fun! For the second book, Red Riding Hood is trying out for a part in the school play. She feels that she is a great actress and has all the lines memorized, but then faints during her audition. One of the boys at school, Wolfgang, helps her up from the floor and even offers to practice lines with her over the weekend. Red isn't sure that she trusts him. She has seen him sitting with Cinda's "Steps" and there are also rumors that he runs around inside the Nevermore Forest and may even be a shape-changer. There's definitely something different about that boy. While Red worries over whether to try again at the next audition, she and her friends are also busy with other plans. They are trying think of a way to save the school since the principal's alchemy experiments aren't producing any gold. Bake sales, pet shows, crafts, makeovers, they come up with a lot of good ideas, but which one should they suggest?

The world of Grimmlandia continues to gain depth as we read each new story. More and more characters from famous literature keep working their way in, such as Red's roommate Gretel - who leaves crumbs everywhere she goes and has nightmares of the cafeteria lady locking her in an oven. We also find out more about the E.V.I.L. society that seems to be growing even among the faculty at Grimm Academy. Along with the fairy tale elements there are also regular school worries such as the play auditions and fundraisers that make the characters seem much more real. Fans of fairy tales, princesses, and magical settings are in for a treat with the Grimmtastic Girls.

I won an autographed copy in a giveaway on The Children's Book Review.

Summer Reading 2014 Willow-Mia Pig: 1 in 100 Million


Based on a true story, Willow-Mia Pig is told from the title character's point of view. And, yes, she's a pig. When she's just a piglet, she is taken from her mother and put in a crate with her brothers and sisters to be trucked off to another farm. Willow-Mia manages to escape from the crate when the truck slows down and she winds up in a ditch by the highway. When she is rescued at last, she is a thin and hungry little pig that is taken to the animal shelter. Slowly she regains her health, but grows sad that the people who come to the shelter always pay attention to the dogs and no one adopts her. Then she meets Mollie. Mollie comes to visit her and brings her treats, teaches her tricks, and gives her belly rubs. With Mollie's help, Willow-Mia is taken to an animal sanctuary farm that becomes her "forever home."

Willow-Mia's story is intended to help make people aware of the harsh life of factory farms and the need for more humane treatment of all animals. It also shows how just one person's care and concern makes a difference. There is a photo of the author and Willow-Mia Pig at the back of the book, along with URLs for the Humane Society of the U.S. and Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary (where Willow-Mia lives). 

As someone who has adopted 6 dogs and regularly supports the Humane Society, I am glad to see books like this that show people who care about animals. I think young readers will enjoy hearing about Willow-Mia's adventure from a pig's-eye point of view. Snortle, snortle.

I won an autographed copy of the book from The Children's Book Review.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Featured Post - Summer Reading 2014 The Return of Zita the Spacegirl

In honor of the tenth anniversary of First Second Books, I am featuring some previous posts about their titles.


The folks at First Second Books generously sent me a review copy of Zita's third adventure and also allowed me to ask creator Ben Hatke some questions. Here are the Q&A with Ben:

1. What was your inspiration for the story line (either of this latest adventure, or the entire Zita story in general)? And related to that, why did you choose to have a female protagonist?

The original inspiration for this latest Zita adventure was just the idea of paying homage to my favorite escape and heist stories -- like Shawshank Redemption or The Great Escape. There's still a bit of that in what the story became, but I feel like it grew from there.

And why a female protagonist? Adventurous girls tend to be particularly easy characters for me to write because I grew up with two confident and adventurous sisters and now I have four very adventurous daughters of my own. I'm used to watching girls take center stage in their own narratives.

2. Have you always wanted to be a writer and artist? Is that why you chose graphic novels, so you could create both text and illustrations?

I've gone through phases where I wanted to do different things -usually travel and adventure oriented jobs, but telling stories and making art was always there in my heart, always something I wanted to do.
I like telling stories in different formats, picture books in particular, but graphic novels are one of my favorite formats because the text and the illustrations are working so closely together. They exist in the same space. It's also a bit like making your own movie but with an unlimited special effects budget. 

3. Where do you work - office, studio, at home, at a cafe, in the park?

Most of the time I work at home in my little studio (which is really just one side of my bedroom). I play music and use headphones a lot because, as I mentioned earlier, I have four daughters and they can be pretty distracting during the day. We live in a busy house.

When I'm just writing I do sometimes like to go to a cafe. It's important to get out sometimes.

4. What time of day do you prefer to work/are you the most productive? 

Mornings are best for business-y stuff like answering emails and updating my blog, and then at about midmorning I try to switch over to working on the books. That would be writing, drawing or coloring, depending on where I am in the project. 

I take at least one walk every day to work out creative problems and I also try to make sure I schedule a little bit of "notebook time" into every day. "Notebook time" is when I just open my current sketchbook/notebook and let my mind draw up whatever ideas it wants to. This tends to work out best in the morning to get the creative juices going.

5. Do you have a specific age range in mind when you begin a project, or do you let the story decide who the audience will be?

Story is king. My first goal is always to tell a good story. Then it kind of settles into an age range, but I always hope that people of all ages will enjoy my books -- that everyone will find something to take away.

A BIG thank-you to Ben Hatke for taking the time to answer these questions and to Gina at First Second Books for all her help. To find out more about Ben and his projects, check out his blog

Summer Reading 2014 Cinderella Stays Late (Grimmtastic Girls, #1)


Imagine a place called Grimmlandia where all the characters from fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and other famous stories have been gathered by the Brothers Grimm for their safety. In this land there is Grimm Academy, and Cinderella (Cinda to her friends), is arriving for her first day at the school. Of course, the stepsisters have taken off with the family coach and left her to walk to school. She finally arrives at lunchtime, having missed her first three classes of the day. Cinda had hoped that the "Steps" would be busy with their friends and ignore her, but they are up to their old tricks - trying to get her into trouble and expelled from school. There are good things about the academy. My favorite is the library where Mother Goose and her helpers keep track of all the magical books and items. Cinda and her new friends (Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and Rapunzel), check out shoes and gowns from the library to wear to the ball thrown in honor of Prince Awesome's arrival at the academy. There's also masketball - which is like our basketball, but the players wear masks to conceal their identities and the hoops move around to avoid the ball. Just imagine a school where Rumpelstiltskin is principal and Humpty Dumpty is one of the teachers. Sounds "grimmazing"! 

This is a great series for readers who enjoy E.D. Baker's Frog Princess books, the Goddess Girls series (by these same authors), or Buckley's Sisters Grimm. I won an autographed copy in a giveaway on The Children's Book Review (

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Summer Reading 2014 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6


I laughed out loud so much that I got teary-eyed reading this book. Dave Davidson and his friends miss their sweet teacher, Ms. Samson, from fifth grade. This year they have Mr. Papadakis, who is also in a punk rock band and spends most of his time on his cell phone. Throughout the year Dave helps each of his friends to overcome their fears. Eric is afraid to dance in front of everyone at the Back-to-School Dance. Andrew is so afraid of public speaking that he throws up and their class is assigned to do a speech in October. Vanessa is afraid of dogs, so her boyfriend Robbie makes Dave help her overcome the fear so she will be able to visit his house. And in December, while they are working on the science fair, he finds out that Claire is scared of the future and tackles that with her. The therapy methods Dave uses, and the results of his assistance are hilarious. For instance, part of helping Vanessa involves letting his Burmese mountain dog lick her face - which sends her shrieking out of the house. When he's not practicing psychology without a license, Dave is busy with the Nationals, a band he and his friends form. They only sing variations of the Canadian National Anthem. His friend Eric videos everything and posts it to YouTube.

There are so many true middle school moments in the story - the dance, the science fair, snow days, public speaking, avoiding homework...even annoying big brothers. Middle grade readers will recognize their own school-related fears and see the faces of classmates when they try to visualize the characters. Older readers will look back at their own middle school experience and wish it had been as entertaining as this book. Folks who enjoy the Diary of a Wimpy KidOrigami Yoda, or the Hank Zipzer books will love 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It will be published on September 1,2014.

Summer Reading 2014 Maddy West and the Tongue Taker


Maddy's story is one filled with adventure, courage, friendship, and magic. She has the talent to understand and speak in any language and her mother gets the idea to make money from her talent by having her appear on television. Unfortunately, this attracts the attention of sinister forces. A professor comes and asks that Maddy accompany her to visit an ancient monastery and help her translate the scrolls that are stored there. But once they leave England and reach the town in Bulgaria where the monastery is located, things start to go very wrong very quickly. Not to give too much of the story away, but the problems include a sneaky monkey, a stowaway friend, a wicked witch and her daughters, a famous wrestler, assorted wildlife, and spell components like dragon's tongue and bat dung.

For readers who enjoy the magic and adventure of stories like Harry Potter (but don't mind that the book is under 300 pages in length), Maddy West and the Tongue Taker could be a perfect choice for you. 

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It will be published September 1, 2014.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer Reading 2014 Jim Henson's The Storyteller

Growing up watching The Muppet Show, The Dark Crystal, and Fraggle Rock - it's hard not to be a Jim Henson fan. The characters and stories that came out of the Jim Henson studios were always entertaining. The tales in this volume are also entertaining and often have a moral to them, as many of the greatest tales often do. Presented by a variety of artists and writers, each story has its own style, yet they work well together as a collection. The inspiration for the stories comes from diverse roots such as Japanese and Russian folk tales and French fairy tales. You may recognize many of them as old friends that have donned a new appearance, while others may be completely new to you. Familiarity doesn't matter though, you will enjoy them all. Perfect for readers of all ages and a feast for the eyes as well as the mind.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Summer Reading 2014 The Forbidden Library


Alice overhears her father arguing with a mysterious individual and sees what she thinks is a yellow and black fairy in their kitchen. Then her father leaves on a business trip and his ship is reported lost at sea with no survivors. The solicitors in charge of her father's affairs send her to live with an "Uncle Jerry" that she has never heard of before. She learns that Geryon is actually an ancestor from several generations ago who is a magic user known as a Reader. These magicians use magic from books and collect incredible hoards of books to search through them for sections that have the peculiar resonance of magic. Geryon believes Alice may have inherited the ability, and his hunch is confirmed when she accidentally activates a magical book.

The powers of the Readers can create "prison-books, portal-books, and world-books and books that lead to the bottom of the ocean.." They can take scraps of magic from different books and combine them together to create new things. Their power is a bit like that of Mo and Meggie in Inkheart or what Lybrarians can do in The Ninja Librarians, but even closer to what the characters in Libriomancer do. If you enjoy stories that explore the magical power of words and books, then try The Forbidden Library and join Alice in her search for answers.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It was published April 15, 2014.

You can find out more about the author at his website. He is working on a sequel to The Forbidden Library, titled The Mad Apprentice.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Summer Reading 2014 Braving the Brontes (Carly Keene: Literary Detective # 1)


I love books where the characters from our world get to meet famous people from history - and this is a triple crown winner, because Carly gets to meet all three of the Bronte sisters. Carly and her friend Francesca are always hoping for an adventure. They play games where they come up with scenarios and then imagine what a favorite character would do in the situation. They are on the lookout for a wardrobe or other everyday location that is actually a portal to another world, so it shouldn't be a big surprise when they discover an alleyway they have never noticed before and it contains a bookshop jammed with books of all sorts. Carly meets the owner and he offers to let her look at a first edition copy of Jane Eyre. Before she knows it, Carly has been transported to 1846 and is living with the Brontes as Charlotte's student. A ghost tells her that she must get the sisters to share their stories and then she must read Jane Eyre before she will be able to return to her own time. The only problem, the book hasn't been written yet! What's a girl to do?

Carly is a determined and spirited girl with plenty of imagination. She's also very fond of books and refers to them often, mentioning titles and characters that readers will recognize. Although her friend Francesca does not get to come along on this adventure, I'm sure that she is hoping for a chance of her own. If you enjoy books and mysteries, this is a mixture that will be your kind of story. I'm curious where and when Carly will go next.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. The title was published on May 1, 2014.