Mini Reviews

Yup, I'm back with more mini reviews. I like this for when I start to feel a "backlog" -- or want to say something about a book, without really doing a "whole" review. And since the purpose of this blog is to have fun and share my thoughts on what I'm reading, I get to do whatever it takes to stay fun. Plus you get a handful of very different titles in one day!

The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail
Richard Peck
Dial, 2013

This book is almost ridiculously cute. A little nameless mouse ("Nameless is blameless," he hears it all the time), with a question mark of a tail. A scrappy mouse, a mysterious mouse. A mouse on a mission: to see the Queen. Yes, the human Queen Victoria. But along the way, there are some misadventures and unfortunate encounters. Like bats, and a swim in strawberry punch. And discovering that everything he thought about the world is just one big front for a huge, life changing discovery. Literally. Because it turns out, this little mouse isn't so nameless after all.

An incredibly cute, fun read for upper elementary/early middle grades. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and remembered all the reasons I used to love reading Peck when I was younger. (I think I'm old enough to return to him now, to paraphrase CS Lewis wholly out of context). And the illustrations! Such wonderful additions to an already fun story. I especially liked the full-color pages.

Book provided by my local library.

Paul Rudnick
Scholastic, 2013

I heard about this book during a School Library Journal web conference over the summer, and was intrigued - even though I wasn't entirely sure what I'd be reading. The book is weird. In a mostly good way, but still weird. It feels like a lot of shifting smoke and mirrors, with a little firework-flash thrown in for good measure. Nobody is quite who they seem. There are twists and turns and fairly insane developments. But it works. Which is perhaps the weirdest bit of all: just how well it all works together.

Becky was always a plain girl, the one trying to sink into the background and escape notice. When her mother dies, she finds herself inexplicably journeying to New York to meet with Tom Kelly - designer extraordinaire and standard of all things beautiful. He makes Becky a deal: he will turn her into the most beautiful woman in the world, if she'll wear three dresses. The catch? She's got to fall in love and be married within a short window of time. And he really does mean fall in love, not just snag some guy who wants to marry the most beautiful woman in the world. Rebecca gets right to the threshold of making everything come true, after a lot of misadventures and growth, and watches everything fall to ashes. Tom was teaching her more about Life than she realized, and there's more to both Tom and her life than Becky ever guessed. This is a crazy read, nowhere near realistic, but also darkly fun to read.

Book provided by my local library.

Lola and the Boy Next Door
Stephanie Perkins
Dutton, 2011

I thoroughly enjoyed Perkins's debut Anna and the French Kiss, and was very excited to finally get my hands on Lola. I was not disappointed: Lola is an endearingly chaotic 'heroine', in only good ways. She's a super creative girl, and has all the impetuous enthusiasm of seventeen. She makes mistakes, she misunderstands, she crashes. But she doesn't stay down. Especially with the help of her best friend Lindsey, and the surprising pick-back-up of childhood friend Cricket Bell. (Anna and St Clair also make a reappearance, and are voices of experience in Lola's ear. Plus St Clair is just fun!). How do I explain Cricket? He's awesome. Amazing. If not for the skinny pants, I'd be in love with him myself. He's not perfect, but his imperfections make him even more a long-legged puppy you can't help but adore. That's actually a pretty good summary of the book: On the surface, it seems just "too much" -- Lola never repeats an outfit/always dresses in costume; she's dating a much older, bad boy musician; etc. But it works. Because Lola is real, and all the characters could literally be walking down the street. It's life, in a book.

Book provided by my local library.


Blog Tour: Life in Outer Space

Hey guys, while I'm experiencing my first ever library conference (eep!), thanks for stopping by -- you're in luck today, it's another Peachtree blog tour. This time, featuring the intensely amusing Aussie novel Life in Outer Space. And, as always, don't forget to check out the complete tour schedule (there's even a chance to win your own copy)!

Life in Outer Space
Melissa Keil
Peachtree, 2013

There is a reason I love YA literature. There is also a reason I'm falling in love with Australian-pubbed novels, YA or otherwise. Life in Outer Space could be Exhibit A in a display explaining these attractions and affections. Its an entirely refreshing and exceptionally entertaining novel about a group of high schoolers who are geektastic. And I do mean geektastic.

The ring leader of this little tribe of nomadic geeks (okay, so not really nomadic, but it felt like a fun thing to say) is Sam. If anyone has ever fully embraced his geek-level status, it is Sam. He is a walking guru on all things horror movie and related ("real") movie trivia. Girls? Nah, Sam's not worried about the lack of feminine interest in his geektasmic self -- he's never met a girl who can hold a candle to Princess Leia. Until ... The day a new girl breezes into class, with a funky sense of style and the ability to make friends with everyone. Camilla appears to be everything polar opposite of Sam and his buddies -- but she also really enjoys hanging out with them. Especially Sam. And this means that life as Sam knows it, is officially over.

Even though it's an Australian novel, set in Australia, Life in Outer Space is such a teenager story. I think there are huge chunks of growing up that are universal, and some experiences that we can all relate to whether it happens in San Francisco, Middle-o-Nowhere, or Australia. It's just part of life, and that helps bring the human family closer together, ya know? Okay, philosophical wandering aside, we all know what it's like to be a high school student, a teenager, and deal with other teenagers. It's crazy. And wonderful. And terrible. Sam and Camilla, and the whole teen cast of this novel? They're real. They're walking down halls in schools around the globe. And this feeling of realism and authenticity takes this fun and quirky story and gives it added depth. Don't get me wrong, it's still a hilarious read -- I snickered out loud a few times -- but it's not just another high school musical (don't hate: I love those movies). Definitely worth picking up; but don't blame me if you get hooked on Australian publishing ... :o)

ARC provided by publisher for review.


Release Day Blitz: Seeing Light

Seeing Light
The Seraphina Parrish Trilogy # 3
Genre- YA Fantasy/ Time Travel
Publication Date- October 10th, 2013 

As the corruption of the Society intensifies and the questions surrounding her mother mount, Seraphina Parrish embarks on a journey to find Terease in the terrifying Wandering city of Nocturna. But the information she learns there only sends her team on a dangerous mission to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Delving deep into the disturbing secrets of their world, the revelations quickly unravel, revealing shocking truths about the Society and Sera’s life. In the end, power and courage clash in a mission for freedom that may shatter the Wandering world completely.



Blog Tour: Grounded

Today I am happy to be a part of the blog tour for Angela Correll's new novel Grounded. Catch the review now, and swing back later for a guest post from Angela!

Angela Correll
Koehler, 2013

True confession: I almost turned this tour down. I've got a huge stack of books to read, for both myself (the biggest pile, by far) and for review. But something about it kept beckoning, so I agreed. When something persistently nudges you to read something, do it! I had no idea this book would be just what I needed at the time. I'm not even entirely sure I know how to explain why, but I'll try ...

Annie has the world at her fingers. Literally. As a flight attendant with seniority, she gets to travel the global skies and spend time in gorgeous places. Like Rome, a special favorite destination. She's got a small circle of great friends, and a boyfriend who seems a dream come true. Then everything falls in pieces at her feet. The airline's purchased by another, and her job disappears. Too Perfect Boyfriend Stuart turns out to be, quite literally, too perfect to be true. Stranded in New York City without an apartment, what's a girl to do? Run home. Back to Kentucky, and the farm she grew up on.

After the bustle of life in the City, and the adventure of flying around the world, Annie has a hard time adjusting to the quiet rhythms of rural Kentucky. But the quiet is just what she needs, and soon she finds herself settling into a comfortable routine, aided in large part by reconnecting with childhood best friend Jake Wilder and getting to know her grandmother better. Not only is Annie able to repair old relationships, but she uses the respite to get to know herself better - rediscovering old passions and dreams, as well as finding new visions for the future. Her soul settles, her heart finds rest. And when it's time to make big choices, Annie is able to make a decision that both heart and mind find more than acceptable.

Annie's story is one that could be any girl's - finding herself jobless and heartbroken, returning home and finding new dreams in old familiar places. I could relate to Annie. I love the Kentucky setting - it's small town Southern enough to be familiar, even if it's a couple states away from what I know. And the supporting characters? Beulah (grandma) and Jake Wilder (the best friend) are awesome. Not to mention Woody, Lindy and the rest of the population. A comforting, familiar read that I am so glad I picked up.

Book provided by author for review.


Blog Tour: Where is Baby?

Time for another Peachtree blog tour! This one is entirely too cute, and once you read my review make sure you check out the complete line-up Emily's arranged!

Where is Baby?
Kathryn O. Galbraith & John Butler (illustrator)
Peachtree, 2013

Oh goodness. If you couldn't tell from the cover image, this book is incredibly adorable. Actually, it's beautiful. The illustrations are so well done -- I could easily see framing some of them as prints for a baby nursery (or "just because"). Simply beautiful. And for picture books, luring little kiddies into a lifetime of future reading, you've got to have beautiful pictures. Or so I think, at least.

Of course, the "story" is also engaging: a delightful romp through the baby animal world, discovering hiding places and cozy crannies. The text adds to the experience without detracting from the illustrations, and it's not too overwhelmingly wordy -- a good starter read, actually. And, as with so many of the awesome books put out by Peachtree, in the back are a couple pages of facts about the animals described within. Gotta love the combination of a beautifully illustrated, sweet read and science. Now, I may just curl up with this again, just to look at all the details in the pictures (seriously, details abound!) ...

Galley provided by publisher for review.