Well That Was Awkward

REVIEW: Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail

Summary


Gracie is a fairly typical 8th grader. She has a couple best friends and a larger circle of kids she hangs out with. Her parents are mostly okay, except they are overprotective. She can’t really go anywhere alone, she’s not allowed to have a pet, and she doesn’t feel like she can show anyone her true feelings. She’s smart, a reader, and she cares about charity, raising money for turtle rescues and book charities.

But things start to change in 8th grade. Gracie starts wondering about her parents and how they survived what happened to her sister. And she wonders what her role is in her family in light of her sister. Then there are the crushes. Gracie finds herself in a Cyrano DeBergerac-like role between her best friend Sienna and Gracie’s own maybe-crush AJ. And, in typical middle school fashion, there’s a stuck up mean girl and plenty of questions and doubts about physical traits and identity. When all of those pieces collide – family, friends, crushes, and mean girls, Gracie may find herself standing alone.

Review


I ADORED this! When I tried to summarize it, I realized how much is going on in this story! It’s hard to put it all together and keep it concise. But in the reading, it all hangs together perfectly!

Gracie tells the story in first person, so you get her stream-of-consciousness thinking, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Her “voice” is excellent! It has a funny, fast pace to it that really clicked for me. If this book existed when I was a teen, I would have read it over and over until it fell apart. I would have completely identified with Gracie.

I enjoyed the whole ensemble in this story. The development between Gracie and her parents is lovely and touching. I liked the evolution in the group of girls around Gracie, watching them wrestle with growing up and identity. And her other best friend, Emmett, is so cool and endearing.

This was an absolute delight! I hugged the book when I finished. I will be recommending this one often and reading it again in the future.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Girl Who Saved Christmas

BOOK NEWS: October 31, 2017

Happy almost Halloween for those of you who celebrate. Lots of fun books coming out this week to add to your To Be Read list! Let’s take a look.

Books for Kids


ET The Extra-Terrestrial – Picture book based on the famous 80s movie. A great way for adults to relive a part of their childhood and introduce these characters to their children.
The Koala Who Could – A koala tries to deal with change when he prefers things stay the same. The illustrator for this one is a favorite of mine. I’m looking forward to seeing this one in person.
Ara’s Rocky Road to White Belt – Book 1 in the Team Taekwondo graphic novel series about a turtle who wants to be part of the team but isn’t sure he has what it takes. This looks adorable – great for kids studying martial arts as well as any kid who needs a story about perseverance.
Bear on the Loose – Book 2 in the Branches series Hilde Cracks the Case about a young journalist. I can’t say enough how much I love Branches books for kids ready to stretch their reading skills into short chapter books.
Jake – Puppy Place book #47
Safari Pug: The Dog Who Walked on the Wild Side – Book 3 in the Adventures of Pug series. This looks absolutely adorable! Great for fans of animal books.
Super Rabbit Racers – Book 3 in the Branches series Press Here with a video game feel.
The Wildwood Bakery – Book 7 in the awesome Owl Diaries series from Branches. These books are adorable and my students went crazy for every new addition to the series.

Books for Older Kids/Teens/Young Adults


Dogs: From Predator to Protector Graphic Novel – Nonfiction graphic novel about dogs. Great science series for kids.
Dream Jumper – Curse of the Harvester (Graphic Novel) – Book two in this graphic novel series about a boy who can jump into other people’s dreams.
The Fourth Ruby – Book 2 in the Section 13 series about two friends who have been framed for a major theft. I have book one on my TBR shelves. I need to get to it soon so I can can catch up.
The Girl Who Saved Christmas – From the author of The Boy Called Christmas comes this new Christmas story about the girl who received the very first Christmas present but now she is losing her Christmas spirit. This sounds delightful, and I am looking forward to reading it!
Have Sword Will Travel – Two kids uncover an ancient talking sword and set off on an adventure to save their kingdom. Sounds like my kind of middle grade fantasy!
The Legends of Luke Skywalker – A collection of Luke Skywalker stories. Could they all be true or are they tall tales and legends? As we get closer to the release of the next Star Wars film, I am getting more excited. This is a perfect time to dive into some of the stories that will set up the the next film.
Little Bigfoot Big City – Book 2 in the Littlest Bigfoot series about a girl in search of her past and a small Bigfoot who wants to break free from the expectations of her tribe. This series sounds terrific. I have added them to my list!
My Life Is a Joke – The latest middle grade book from James Patterson starring Jacky Hart who wants to act and sing all summer while her parents have other plans for her – like finding a job.
Race to the Finish – Book 2 in the Girls Who Code series. This looks like a fun book about friendship and coding with a diverse cast of characters.
The Trials of Morrigan Crow – Book 1 in the Nevermoor series. A cursed girl finds herself in a magical world competing for a chance to stay in Nevermoor and avoid her fate in our world. This sounds fantastic, and that cover is absolutely gorgeous. This is certainly on my list for this week!
Undercover Princess – A princess and a scholarship student attending the same school decide to swap identities but someone knows what they are up to. I’m curious to find out more about this one. It has a promising premise! First in a new series.
Kid Chef Bakes – Includes recipes as well as how-tos for common baking tasks like separating eggs. This looks like a fantastic reference for the budding chefs in your life! Targeted to kids 8 to 13.
The Empress – Sequel to The Diabolic. Nemesis is trying to settle into her new role as Empress, but the ruling class wants no part of the new world order. Can Nemesis prove to the Empire that she is not the killing machine she was created to be?
My New Crush Gave to Me – A girl rigs the Secret Santa at the school paper in order to get her crush, but she will have to trust his annoying cousin to help her pick the perfect gift. This is at the top of my Christmas book list!
Otherworld – From actor and kids’ author Jason Segel comes this virtual reality tale. Can technology give us everything we think we want? And is it worth the price we would have to pay? This sounds like a thriller along the lines of Warcross, but with more danger and tension. I am intrigued by this. It’s on my library list.
A Teen’s Guide to Getting Stuff Done – Helps teens determine their procrastination type and then figure out strategies to use it to their advantage.

Books for Adults


Blackberry Burial – Book 2 in the Berry Basket Mystery series about a shop owner who finds remains that could belong to a person who went missing twenty years ago. This series looks fantastic, and I have added it to my list.
Cremains of the Day – First in a new series. Tallie thought her marriage was her ticket out of a life of dead bodies at the family funeral home, but when her marriage falls apart and she starts cleaning houses for money, she stumbles onto a dead body anyway. This sounds like a fun new mystery series!
Deck the Halls with Fudge (Kindle novella) – For e-book readers comes a novella in the Candy-coated mystery series. Secondary characters in the series get to be the stars this time as they look into a murder while Allie, the usual sleuth, is busy with holiday orders at her Fudge shop. I am woefully behind on this series, but this story makes me want to get caught up asap so I can enjoy this one!
The Engagement Plot – He broke her heart on national television, but now they need each other, so a sham engagement seems to be the smart solution. This sounds cute.
Knit to Kill – First book in the new Black Sheep & Co series about a group of knitters who head out for a wedding, but a murder interrupts the festivities. Looks like the author has a previous Black Sheep Knitting mystery series. I’m not sure how this spin off fits in, but I am curious to check it out.
The Quiche and the Dead – Book 1 in a new Pie Town mystery series about the pie shop owner and her 70 year old assistant looking into a murder to save the business. I love checking out new mystery series. This is on my library list.
Ring in the Year with Murder – Book 4 in the Otter Lake Mystery series takes place at a Great Gatsby-themed New Year’s party. I’m not familiar with this series, but the set up for this particular book sounds terrific.
The Secret, Book and Scone Society – First in a new series. Guests who come to Miracle Springs looking for something to cure their ills usually find their way to Miracle Books where the owner uses her special skills to help each guest find a book that will help whatever ails them. After finding a dead body, Nora pulls together a group to help her investigate. This sounds fascinating!
Slay Bells Ring – Book 7 in the Caprice De Luca series about an interior decorator.  When a Vietnam Vet who plays Santa at Christmas is found dead, Caprice is sleuthing again. Look at that cover! It makes me want to snuggle under the covers and start reading!
Thread the Halls – Book 6 in the Mainely Needlepoint Series. Another gorgeous Christmas cover, this time for a book about famous guests coming to town for the holidays – and murder on the menu. I’m not familiar with this series, but I’d love to give this Christmas cozy a try.
Be the Gift: Let Your Broken Be Turned into Abundance – The latest from Ann Voskamp challenges readers to find a way to be a gift to others every day.
How We Eat with our Eyes and Think with Our Stomachs: The Hidden Influences that Shape Your Eating Habits – 40 Questions to help readers zero in on WHY they make the food choices they do.
Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter – This book leaves politics behind and looks at the HOW of Donald Trump’s campaign and election win and how business people can use similar techniques. It works for those who want to persuade as well as those who want to be able to recognize and resist the techniques. I find this book’s premise intriguing. I don’t know if I’ll read it – or like it – but it is fascinating to think about.

Names They Gave Us

REVIEW: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Summary


For Lucy, the hits just keep on coming. Her boyfriend put their relationship on “pause” for the summer so they can re-evaluate their relationship. Instead of spending the summer hosting church groups at her family’s church camp, Lucy’s mom asks her to counsel at Dayspring. Dayspring is a camp for kids who’ve experienced difficulties in life – teen pregnancy, grief, loss, family issues, and abuse. And Lucy feels like she HAS to do what her mom asks because her mom’s cancer is back. Not knowing what might happen to her mom, how can she say no to a request from her?

Working at Dayspring will give Lucy a chance to grow in ways she can’t even imagine when the summer begins. It’s a safe place to work through her crisis of faith and her feelings about everything happening in her life. And she will find a community she didn’t know she needed.

Review


Stellar. Outstanding. I almost don’t have the adjectives to describe how amazing this story is.

This is not a Christian novel, per se. It’s not published by a Christian publisher. It includes lifestyle pieces that a traditional Christian story wouldn’t address. But there is a DEEP faith core to this story. And it’s about faith in hard times. Where is God when tragedy strikes, when cancer returns? And for me, the faith pieces were right on target – from Lucy’s awkwardness in the face of things she has never encountered before and her earnest desire to be compassionate to the question of “Is it okay to be a Christian and be mad at God?”

Having lived through a similar situation of recurring cancer at a similar age to Lucy’s, I identified with her thoughts and feelings. Her wrestling felt genuine. There’s a scene towards the end with Lucy’s dad that just wrecked me. It was all too familiar – and so authentic. This book left me feeling known and understood.

I think this is an amazing book even if you haven’t faced the same things as Lucy because her story is told so well. There is some mature content in the book (language, teen pregnancy, drinking, sexual identity), so this is a good fit for older teens/young adults and adults. If I could give this more than five stars, I absolutely would. This was fantastic!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Running out of Time

REVIEW: Running Out of Time by Suzanne Trauth

Summary


Dodie O’Dell lives in New Jersey and is the manager of the Windjammer, a restaurant/bar right next to the Etonville Little Theatre. Since Dodie’s best friend, Lola, is the artistic director for the theater, the Windjammer helps provide themed food for their productions.

This time, the ELT is putting on a modified version of Our Town. One of the extras, Sally Oldfield, is a young woman Dodie has taken under her wing. New to town, Sally is getting to know folks in Etonville through the ELT.

When Dodie stumbles into Sally at the theater on opening day, and notices she’s covered in blood, she hardly knows what to think. As Sally runs off, Dodie notices the body.

No one seems to know the dead man or why he was in town. But Sally’s disappeared. And she seemed startled to see that same man a few days earlier. Dodie’s going to need all her sleuthing skills to find Sally and figure out if she is a murderer.

Review


This is the first Dodie O’Dell mystery I’ve read, even though this is the third book in the series. I enjoyed the story and the characters.

Dodie is a pretty typical cozy protagonist. She’s dating the local Chief of Police. He respects her instincts but hates her interference, especially when it puts her in danger. Her role in the community, between her job, her friends and the theater, gives her a lot of access to information for sleuthing. The characters from town are pretty quirky, which gave the book a fun angle.

The mystery was good. I was able to puzzle out the main mystery, but there were still a couple twists I didn’t guess which made for a fun read. The story takes place around Valentine’ Day so the setting is nice and snowy for readers ready for wintery books.

I enjoyed this book and would like to pick up the first two books in the series. This story alludes to those “cases,” and they sound great.

Thanks to Kensington/Lyrical Underground and Netgalley for an electronic review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Riley Can Be Anything

REVIEW: Riley Can Be Anything by Davina Hamilton

Summary


Riley is a school-aged child who doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. His older cousin, Joe, walks Riley through some of the professions people in his family have held. They talk about a chef, a jazz musician, a doctor and a fighter pilot. Through it all, the anchor refrain is that Riley can be anything he wants to be.

Review


Thanks to the author and the SMC group  for offering an electronic review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The illustrations by Elena Reinoso drew me into this story from the moment I saw it. The pieced-paper style is something I enjoy, and I think Riley is adorable!

Writing stories in verse is harder than it seems it would be. Either it’s hard to find a rhyme that works to say what you want to say in a particular section, or you find a rhyming word that fits the rhyme scheme but derails your meaning. There are moments in this book where the rhymes don’t line up with the pattern established in the rest of the story (unsure/more, idea/hear). This would be an amazing book to read out loud, which is where those rhymes really matter. I noted one other time when a rhyme worked (better/letter), but it made me stumble in my reading because the meaning of what the author wanted to convey was unclear at first. (This could be a difference in British vs. American phrasing, too.)

These issues could have been a big distraction to the story. But they were easily overlooked because the message of the book was so clear, and the illustrations are darling. I think it might have been nice to include female family members to show that Riley’s “anything” worked on jobs regardless of his gender. Overall, I think this would be a fun addition to a home library looking for books with diverse  characters, or books with messages about freedom to choose any career.

Rating: ♥♥♥

 

Die Hard Christmas

BOOK NEWS: October 24, 2017

With five Tuesdays in October, this is the “slow” week, although there are still plenty of things to add to my TBR list!

Books for Kids


 

12 Sleighs of Christmas – Santa’s sleigh needs an upgrade and the elves get creative. This looks adorable and perfect for reading in the coming months.
Living in South Korea – Early Reader describing life in South Korea.
Journey to Crystal Cave – Book 12 in the Adventures of Sophie Mouse series for new chapter book readers. When Sophie discovers a crystal cave during a game of hide and seek, her friends don’t believe her. I think this series is absolutely darling! Highly recommended for kids in first through third grade as well as some older readers.

Books for Older Kids/Teens/Young Adults


Anne of Green Gables (Graphic Novel) – Full color graphic novel of this classic story that has been a favorite of readers for years. Great to introduce new readers to the story but also for those who want to revisit Anne in a new format.
Bodyguard: Ambush AND Survival – Books 5 and 6 in this adventure series about a kid who becomes a bodyguard for the President’s daughter and other important figures . I zoomed through book 1, and book 2 is on my TBR pile. In books 5 and 6, Connor is on his third mission as a teen bodyguard, this time for a French diplomat’s family on safari in Africa. Originally each mission was one book, but in the American release, the publisher split each story into two books, so you likely want to get both at once so you don’t have to deal with a cliffhanger.
Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library – Book 2 in the Fairday Morrow series about a girl and her friends who solve mysteries. In this book, a librarian is in trouble and books are changing. This series is on my wish list from the library.
Reign of Outlaws – Book 3 in the Robyn Hoodlum series, a new take on the Robin Hood stories. Book one is on my TBR shelves. I’m looking forward to digging into this series.
Ryan Quinn and the Lion’s Claw – Book 2 in the Ryan Quinn series about a teen turned spy. I really enjoyed the first book in this series and I’m eager to see what happens next for Ryan!
Time Jumper – Book 5 in the Five Kingdoms fantasy series. This is the final book in this series about a kid who follows a portal to another world in order to save his friends. My teen has enjoyed the first couple books in this series.
Expelled – Two teens who have been expelled for crimes they didn’t commit team up to find out who set them up. I haven’t read any James Patterson books for teens or adults – just ones for kids. I am intrigued by this story and will be requesting it from the library.
Long Way Down – The latest from Jason Reynolds focuses on a span of 60 seconds when a teen travels in an elevator trying to decide if he is going to kill the guy who killed his brother. At each floor a different person enters the elevator who has a connection to the teen and his brother, and each has a question to ask before the elevator reaches the bottom. The format for this is so clever, and the story is irresistible. I have to read this one. This is top of my list for this week.
Meant to Be – The names of “soul mates” appear on the skin of eighteen-year-olds in this fantasy about love and fate. This is on my library list, too.

Books for Adults


   

Die Hard Christmas – A picture book retelling of the first Die Hard movie? Yes, please!
How the Finch Stole Christmas – The latest Christmas mystery in the fun Meg Langslow series. I adore this mystery series and look forward to the Christmas book every year, in addition to the regular additions to the series.
The Rooster Bar – John Grisham’s latest legal thriller about a group of law students who discover they’ve been scammed and plot their revenge. I’m looking forward to reading this one soon!
The Usual Santas – A collection of Christmas mysteries from Soho Crime. Collections like this are a great way to test out new-to-you authors and see who you like. The Christmas theme is a terrific bonus!
365 Days of Cookies – To me, the holidays are a prime time to bake and share the spirit of the holidays. Cookies are small, and it’s easy to make an assortment to share with friends and neighbors. I will definitely be checking this out to see if I want to try some new recipes this year.
The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months that Changed the World – This biography looks at the role Truman played in the end of World War II when he suddenly found himself President of the United States after the death of FDR. I love the idea that this looks at just 120 days of his presidency. A crucial window of history.
Sisters First: Stories from our Wild and Wonderful Life – The Bush sisters, twin daughters of President George W. Bush,  share their story of growing up in a political dynasty and their years in the White House.
Star Wars Stormtroopers: Beyond the Armor – An insider’s look at the evolution of the Stormtroopers in the Star Wars universe. Terrific for big Star Wars fans who enjoy the details behind the movies.
Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God – From Mark Batterson, the author of The Circle Maker, this book looks at the ways that God speaks. I have recently read some of Batterson’s work, and I really enjoyed it. I have this book, and several of his older books, on my Christmas list.

Legend of Shadow High

REVIEW: The Legend of Shadow High by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

Summary


Something is going on at Monster High. First, Frankie Stein and Draculaura’s presentation for school is a disaster! Then there’s a strange plopping sound like leaking pipes. And finally there’s a reference to a mysterious place called Shadow High. But no one seems to know what that is.

When Frankie and Draculaura attempt to find Shadow High on the Mapalogue, they set off an earthquake and discover a land they’ve never heard of – Ever After.

Things are strange at Ever After High. There are earthquakes, strange old women in the school, whispers of something call “Shadow High,” and Maddie has gone missing. Maybe the Evil Queen is up to something! But surely not. She’s in mirror prison. Isn’t she?

When Draculaura and Frankie meet Apple White and Raven Queen, there’s lot of screaming (monsters!) and disbelief (fairy tales!). But the only way they can figure out the mysteries of Shadow High will be to work together.

Review


Once upon a time, I read the first two books in the Ever After High series. I loved them! They were fun and fit in with my love of fractured fairy tales. I moved away from the series after the Wonderland story line grew (Wonderland is just not my style) and when the author changed. Now, Shannon Hale is back, this time drawing characters from Monster High into the Ever After High world.

The fun, quirky things from Every After High – the creative language (“hexcellent” and “pin-the-horn-on-the-unicorn”) and narrator commentary, etc. – are back. So the structure of this book felt familiar. As an adult, I find that sometimes these cute little plays on words can get old, but my students adored them.

I loved seeing the Ever After High characters again. Raven has always been my favorite. The new Monster High characters were a neutral piece for me. I didn’t dislike them or like them. They added a “diversity” layer to the story as both pairs of girls had to get past their prejudices. But Monster High is not a franchise I am familiar with, so I have no previous contact with these characters and their stories.

The overall story of the book was interesting. Not what I was expecting. There was a lot  about the structure and process of reading and books – about the separation of readers and story, the “fourth wall,” and the role of narrators, etc.. It was a clever idea, but it didn’t click for me.

There’s an excellent twist to the structure towards the end of the book. That redeemed the reading experience for me. I literally sat up taller in my chair, and hunched over the book to see how the structure change would play out. It was a fun twist that fit with what was happening in the story – it wasn’t just tossed in randomly.

I think this book will click for fans of the original Ever After High books and fans of Monster High as well as kids who love both.

Thanks to Little, Brown books for an ARC of this story for review purposes.

Rating: ♥♥♥

Perilous Poetry

REVIEW: Perilous Poetry by Kym Roberts

Summary


Charli Rae and her dad own the Book Barn Princess in Texas. Charli has recently returned to her home town, reconciled with her dad, and joined him in the family business. And she’s thrilled to receive the latest Midnight Poet Society release from her favorite mystery author, Lucy Barton to sell at the Barn. But Charli is about to get a whole lot more connected to Lucy Barton.

Charli’s cousin, Jamal, has developed an app called Book Seekers. It’s a game that leads players to collect books. And it’s branded to the Book Barn Princess. It’s a brilliant way to get people talking about books and to get them into the store. Jamal has even worked out a tie-in author signing with none other than Lucy Barton! People love the concept and run off to play the game and collect books and prizes.

When the first body is discovered, set up to look like the cover of a Midnight Poet Society book, everything changes. Someone runs Jamal off the road and shoots out the front of the Book Barn Princess. The town council and the mayor think the app is dangerous and needs to be shut down. Could Book Seekers be connected to a murder and these other acts of violence?

Review


While this is my first time reading a Book Barn mystery, this is the third book in the series. The cover art has always caught my eye with the gorgeous, bright pink barn and the pet armadillo on every cover.

I enjoyed the mystery and the characters in this book. I’d like to read the first two books and get some of the back story filled in, but I feel like I was able to keep up with everything. There are a lot of characters to track in this one, so I’d like more of the details to help keep everyone straight. Like other cozies, there’s something of a love triangle going on. In my experience those can get tiring for readers. I hope Charli makes her choice soon! It seems like an obvious one to me.

The mystery is solid. In fact, I had NO guess on a culprit as I read. The victims were not typical for cozies. Usually it is a universally despised person. This felt more random until all the details were revealed. I’m eager to see if Book Seekers continues to be a factor in future books in this series.

Thanks to the folks at Kennsington/Lyrical Underground and Netgalley for the opportunity to read an early electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Golden Nutmeg

REVIEW: The Golden Nutmeg by Christopher Tozier

Summary


Revel Harrison loves soccer. Video games or school he could take or leave, but he eats, sleeps and breathes soccer.

His team, the Fighting Pomelos, isn’t very good. They have moments of brilliance, but their coach is a volunteer who doesn’t know a lot about technique. He doesn’t really even know the names of the kids on the team.

But Revel has potential. His friends know it. So does the coach. The local travel team is even scouting him. But travel teams are expensive. There’s the uniform and specific equipment and all sorts of fees. On a regular day, that would be a lot of money. But Revel’s mom just lost her job. And then his dad loses his job, too. Maybe it would be better if Revel just stuck with the Pomelos. Maybe soccer isn’t all Revel thought it was.

Review


I received a copy of this book from the author along with a review request. In return, I promised an honest review of the book.

This story is very heavy on soccer details. In 165 pages, there are five games and several practices. I think this would appeal to kids who love soccer and play it a lot. They’ll understand the different positions and game rules and maybe be able to picture the action. Kids who don’t play soccer may have a harder time engaging with this book.

The story around the games felt thin to me. There were things going on with Revel’s parents and then another plot point with a guy on the soccer team. I didn’t feel those parts got the same attention as the soccer games. Since I am not big on soccer, it was harder for me to enjoy the story without a more balanced treatment of the different plot points.

In the hands of the right reader, this could be a great story. I was not that reader. In a school setting, I might have had luck finding an audience for this, but it would not have had wide-spread appeal for my students. My rating for this one is based on finding readers who love soccer like the main character does. For a more general audience, my rating would have to be a little lower.  This seems to be marketed as more of a middle grade story, but I feel this would be a better fit for a younger reader who needs a simpler story line or perhaps an older elementary student who struggles to stick with a longer, more intricate plot.

Rating: ♥♥♥

Dr Tenth Christmas Surprise

BOOK NEWS: October 17, 2017

We’re half way through October, and the holiday season is quickly approaching. I’m feeling ready for sweatshirt weather, soup, and crunchy leaves! Here are some new books releasing this week to enjoy as the season turns colder.

Books for Kids


Doctor Tenth: Christmas Surprise! – A Christmas story about Donna and the Tenth Doctor. I have yet to see this line in person, but I think the idea is adorable.
Malala’s Magic Pencil – Activist, Malala Yousafzai releases her story in picture book format to reach younger readers. This is going to be a powerful story! This would work in classroom settings, libraries and at home.
Merry Christmas, Peanut! – One of the things I love about this time of year is that Christmas books start releasing. In this book, a peanut has a yummy-looking adventure on his way to visit family for the holidays. The illustrations in these books are fantastic and clever. This is sure to be a hit!
Thanksgiving in the Woods – Based on the true story of a family who hosted their Thanksgiving celebration in the woods. As a teacher, I had a hard time finding great Thanksgiving stories to read in November. I would add this one to my repertoire if I was still teaching.
The Doctors Time and Space Collection – A collection of the first 8 books in this line (Includes Doctors 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12). Includes a poster. This is a great gift idea for Doctor Who fans who are also kids at heart!
Star Wars Forces of Destiny: Tales of Hope & Courage – Maz Kanata’s journal records the stories of 6 heroines of the Star Wars Saga.
Miss Tracy Is Spacey! – Book 9 in the My Weirdest School series by Dan Gutman. My students loved these short chapter books about a group of elementary school kids and their wacky school staff.

Books for Older Kids/Teens/Young Adults


Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Secret Crush Catastrophe – Book 12 in this super popular middle grade series with a diary format. This time, Nikki has a dilemma when a new boy has a crush on her.
Frank Einstein and the Bio-Action Gizmo – Book 5 in this great science fiction series starring fun, smart kids and quirky robots.
Harry Potter: A Journey through the History of Magic – Based on the new exhibition at the British Library. I can’t wait to see this one in person!
Kid Sherlock – Graphic novel about new kid, John Watson (who happens to be a dog) and Sherlock Holmes. This looks adorable!
The Legend of Shadow High – The kids of Monster High meet the ones from Ever After High in this new book by Shannon Hale. I’ll be reviewing this one on Thursday this week.
Open If You Dare – Three friends find a box labeled “Open if you dare” and now they are solving a forty-year-old mystery. This sounds right up my alley.
Paper Chains – Two friends from very different family situations work their way through strains at home and in their friendship. This sounds absolutely lovely. It is at the top of my wish list for this week!
The Phantom of the Opera (Muppets) – The Muppets put their special spin on the classic story, The Phantom of the Opera. I’d love to see this in person to see what the Muppet influence is on the story.
The Summer of Owen Todd – Owen and Sean have been best friends for ages, so it’s no surprise when Sean opens up to Owen about things going on with the new babysitter Sean’s mom hired to look after him for the summer.  The question becomes what Owen should do – does he stay quiet like Sean asks him to? Or is this too big to keep to himself? This sounds like a younger kids version of A List of Cages (which is one of my favorite books of 2017). This is going to be a difficult but important book to read. This is also at the top of my list for this week.
The Magic Storm – Book 6 in the Phoebe and her Unicorn series. I LOVE this quirky comic series about a girl and her unicorn best friend. I pre-ordered this MONTHS ago, and I will be stalking the mail carrier on Tuesday, waiting for my copy.
Who Is Ralph Lauren? – Latest in the Who Was series of biographies
36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You – Two kids join a psychology study at their university to see if love can be engineered. Told in IMs, sketches and texts, this sounds like a fun read for teens and young adults. This is on my wish list for the library.
Dear Martin – A young African American journals to Dr. King, wondering if his teachings still hold up today when the young man is caught in an altercation with a white police officer. This is a timely story which has received a LOT of positive buzz leading up to the release. This is on my library list, too.
What Was That All About? – A 20-year look at the Duncan family from the Zits comic strip. As the mom of a teenager, I adore this comic. I have this book on my Christmas list!

Books for Adults


Cold as Ice – Book 6 in the Country Club Murders series about an amateur sleuth socialite. The covers for this series are appealing to me, so I have this whole series on my library list.
Planet Hulk – Prose novel based on the comic series about the Incredible Hulk on the planet Sakaar where he is sold into slavery. The Hulk is one of my favorite Marvel characters, so this is on my Christmas list.
Thor Ragnarok Prelude – Graphic novel prelude to the movie releasing in November. Collects Prelude 1-4, Thor (1966) 361, and Hulk (2000) 95.
30 Days to Joy – A one month creative journal including quotes and prompts. Could be a great gift idea, or something to structure my desire to be crafty when I don’t know what I want to do.
Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff – For fans of the show Fixer Upper comes this book by Chip Gaines about some of the antics and ideas he has pursued and the things he has learned along the way.
Chasing Light – As a visual person, I am a sucker for a fantastic photograph. When our family toured the White House several years ago, I was struck by the gorgeous pictures that lined the walls. This looks like a lovely collection of photos of one of our First Ladies.
Fast Food Genocide: How Processed Food Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It – If you are trying to make more healthy choices in your diet, this book could be a resource to motivate you, looking at the impact of processed food on our health. This is on my library list.
Seeing the Unseen – A 90-day devotional by Randy Alcorn with a focus on eternity. Includes scripture references as well as quotes from Christian leaders.
Why the Vote Wasn’t Enough for Selma – Examines the impact of the right to vote on African Americans in the south, specifically in Selma, with regard to economic justice and true “citizenship.”