Tag Archives: reviews

Where’d Ya Go Review?

This is review is for a book I read a while ago but it is so good that I wanted to talk about it. Plus the movie rights have been acquired and I really hope this comes to the big screen.  I love it that much.  If you haven’t read this book already I highly suggest you pick it up. It is great for a summer read on the beach, lounging in a hammock, or just sitting in you back yard.  You will love this.



Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Bernadette is different. She is an architectural genius; an unapproachable private-school parent; a stubborn wife; but above all, a loving mother to 15-year-old daughter Bee.  Bernadette causes draws attention, and causes chaos where ever she goes, and this is a no-no in her upper class Seattle area.  Her life and her choices have made her an extreme agoraphobic and relies on a virtual assistant for even the most basic of tasks.  But when her daughter Bee claims her reward of a trip to Antarctica for acing her report card, that really sends Bernadette spinning.  One day, she goes missing and Bee complies emails, letters, notes, official documents the works, in order to try and find her mother.  The roles of mother and daughter reverse in this can’t put down read.

This book is utterly hysterical.  I was literally laughing out loud. My husband looked at me with wide eyes wondering what on earth I was reading.  I could not put this down.  I was reading it every chance I got and I was sad when it came to and end.  I highly recommend this to anyone looking for good laugh.


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If I Stay…or If I Go

Happy Friday everyone.  I hope that you have all had a successful work week and have a very relaxing and fun filled weekend planned.  I have a book review for you today.  Allow me to speak to you about If I Stay by Gayle Forman.


81UjVsGy5yL If I Stay was an amazing read.  And a fast one.  It tells the story of a teenager  Mia, who is an extremely talented cello player; has a rock solid relationship with her best friend; a family bond that any kid would dream of; and the love of a rocker boyfriend who sees only the best in her.  Mia’s life is full of ups and downs, but the worst is yet to come.  After suffering through a car accident, that leaves her parents and younger brother dead, Mia now clings to life.  However, she has been given the rare gift to choose, whether to stay or to go.   Mia is having an outer-body experience, witnessing the hospital staff, family and friends visits, and Adam her boyfriend, waiting by her bedside to see which way she chooses.  Told through flashbacks as well as actual time, Mia must decide should she stay with her family, or stay and experience life in a whole new way.

Please do not think that since it the character is having an outer-body experience that this is a supernatural like tale.  Mia is the teenager we all once were.  The one who questions her decisions.  The one who falls head over heels in love, only to be unsure if this is the one she wants.  The teenager who must decide what her future holds, and how she wants to live her dreams.  This is a story we can all relate to, on some level.

This is a must read.  Furthermore, the powers that be have decided that it would make a great feature film.  It comes out this August, please check out the trailer below.


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Friday Book Review

so I have mentioned before that I write reviews for an professional magazine (LMC or Library Media Connection).  Here are two titles that I have recently reviewed.

18656207The Meaning of Maggie
Maggie Mayfield is a pre-teen who feels has her life pretty much figured out. She is the product of a two loving parents, has two increasingly annoying older sisters, she is a straight A student, owns a small percentage of Coke stock and is working on her bid to run for president one day.  Every thing is planned accept for her father’s mysterious illness.  You see he can not longer walk and soon Maggie must visit him in the hospital.  And this is one event Maggie could not plan for.   Told from Maggie’s perspective in the form of a journal that is chronicling the past year of her life, Maggie learns that her father suffers from MS.  And it is her goal to help cure him.  This is a beautifully written inventive take on a coming of age story.  The author allows for the reader to discover along with Maggie what is causing her father’s illness.  Peppered with typical family drama, the story flows well and offers  very tender moments between daughter and parent.

MuddyMaxMech.inddMuddy Max and the Mystery if Marsh Creek
Getting dirty and muddy is part of being a kid right? So why does Max have to wear five layers of protective clothing when ever it rains?  Because for Max the mud doesn’t just stain his shoes and dirty him up, the mud gives him super powers.   Max discovers by accident that when ever he comes in contact with Mud he develops an array of super hero skills such as, super strength, speed, and invisibility.  But why did Max’s parent wish to keep this a secret.  It appears they knew about his condition all along and wanted to protect him.  However as Max learns more and more about his abilities with mud he soon learns about the family he never knew about. This was a faced paced graphic novel and is perfect for 3rd to 6th grade readers.


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What a Journey

So I finished another book recently and I am sorry for not posting my review sooner.  But it was a lot to take in and the book was impressive to say the least.  I begin with…

A very big congratulations to JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst for their literary contribution.  S. was a an amazing book, actually two amazing books.  If you are bibliophile and they you must read this.  Because not only is the story well rounded and engrossing, it also touches on many feeling that only a true book lover will understand.

The story or stories center around a fictional writer named Straka, who is a mystery.  He true identity is one that is debated over, with claims being made and debunked.  The authors back story is almost a rich as the rest of the work, and could by all accounts be considered a novella of sorts since though never truly given as much page space as the other two stories, still provides a great tale of a writers life.

The next story the you embark on is the story of The Ship of Theseus.  The last book to have been written by fictional Straka, it tells the tale of a man S. who does not remember his past, does not know where his future lies, but faces a journey that entwines him with a ghostly ship, a charismatic woman, and a dastardly deed that he himself is not sure he can succeed in.

The final story follows the Eric and Jen, two lovers of the written word and obsessed with Straka.  Eric is a disgraced grad student, Jen a senior at the same college who stumbles across Eric’s copy of The Ship of Theseus and while reading it, notices his margin notes.  Not wanting to be rude, she wrote her own note and the two begin a blossoming relationship with communication taking place along the margins of the book.   While their lives begin to mirror those of Straka and S. the two young lovers set out to uncover the true identity of Straka. Along with the margin notes, stuffed with in pages are newspaper clippings,  letters, pictures and postcards, all moving the story(ies) along.

This was an intense read but a good one all the same.  I highly recommend it this to anyone. But take some advice.

1) read book first

2) read pencil, blue and black margin notes

3) read orange and green margin notes

4) read red and purple margin notes

5) read black and black margin notes

You might go through this several times but it is worth it.

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Review for LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson

As I stated earlier, I was in the middle of reading Life after Life by Kate Atkinson. I just finished it yesterday and I felt I should share with you my thoughts.   I  must start with saying that I am a Kate Atkinson fan.  My first peek into her writing was Case Histories and I starting reading everything she wrote.  I am a huge Jackson Brodie fan so when I saw she was releasing a new novel it caught my attention. Needless to say it took a while for me to get to it, but I finally was able to read it. And. I. Loved. It.

The concept of a young  British woman, Ursula Todd, born on a snowy night in 1910 only to quickly die; than on that same snowy night in a young British woman, Ursula Todd is born and goes on to live, and live a unique life to say the least, caught me by surprise. It didn’t seem like a concept/genre Ms. Atkinson would gravitate towards.  However, the way she writes, you forget that you are reading a story whose main character is a reincarnation of themselves, several times over.  The way she weaves Ursula’s lives together creates an amazing taparisty of imaginitve and historical stories.  Urusla suffers through some horrific events, and meets a man who’s place in history brings feelings of hatred. It is how Ursula handles each of these moments again and again that truly moves this story.

This is a unique story that I recommend to any reader and one that will have a place in future “Top” lists.

Well done Kate. Well done.

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Book Reviews

I have been very lucky to work with Library Media Connection (LMC) magazine as a reviewer.  I enjoy being able to view titles before they come out and get the opportunity to give my opinion.   I take two sides to reviewing.

1) I look from the eyes of a librarian and reviewer.  I look for the quality of the writing, the character development, and the movement of the plot.  I resist the urge to not read other reviews of the title until I am done with mine. I do not want any outside influences.  Because I know that my opinion might be different; and I don’t want their opinion changing how I write my review.  My main goal as a reviewer is, what would make me or my students pick this up?

Which brings me to…

2) I try to look through the eyes of my students.  I am lucky in the sense that I oversee two libraries, it provides me with the opportunity to see a variety of reading styles and trends.  And a majority of the books that I review are geared toward middle school ages readers, so I focus on how my students would react to seeing this title on my shelves.  Would they want to read it?  What can I say to make them want to read it?  As a librarian my goal is to see more students reading for pleasure, so being a reviewer allows me the opportunity to get a jump on who to promote new titles.

So my goal for this post is to share with you some of the titles that I have had the chance to review. I will not be showing all of them, but a good amount and the ones I feel you should check out.  I hope you, and your young readers, enjoy them. (sorry of the lack of cover images. My service is on the fritz today)

The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic by Uma Krishnaswami

Killer Species #1:  Menace from the Deep by Michael P. Spradlin (this is part of a series)

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

The Last Wild by Piers Torday (this is the first of a series)

Good Crooks series by Mary Amato

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Awards Season is Coming

Happy Holidays everyone.  With new year fast approaching it is time to start thinking about what books might be receiving the coveted Newbery Medal.  I have read a great deal over the year and I am happy to say that yet again this might be a tough one for the selection panel.  (sidenote: I would love to be on that committee one day)

With that being said here are some of my selections for some of the top books of the past year. I hope you get the chance to read some of these as well.


The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban
It follows the story of Tim Macbeth, a seventeen-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is “Enter here to be and find a friend.” A friend is the last thing Tim expects or wants—he just hopes to get through his senior year unnoticed. Yet, despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “It” girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim’s surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, but she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone ever finds out. Tim and Vanessa begin a clandestine romance, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.


Brotherhood by Anne Westrick
The year is 1867, the South has been defeated, and the American Civil War is over. But the conflict goes on. Yankees now patrol the streets of Richmond, Virginia, and its citizens, both black and white, are struggling to redefine their roles and relationships. By day, fourteen-year-old Shadrach apprentices with a tailor and sneaks off for reading lessons with Rachel, a freed slave, at her school for African-American children. By night he follows his older brother Jeremiah to the meetings of a group whose stated mission is to protect Confederate widows like their mother. But as the true murderous intentions of the group, now known as the Ku Klux Klan, are revealed, Shad finds himself trapped between old loyalties and what he knows is right.


Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo and K.G. Campbell
It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry — and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.


The Ugly One by Leanne Statland Ellis
At the height of the Incan empire, a girl called the Ugly One because of a disfiguring scar on her face, seeks to have the scar removed and instead finds a life path as a shaman.




Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now. Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.


What we Found in the Sofa and How it Saved the World by Henry Clark
When River, Freak, and Fiona discover a mysterious sofa sitting at their bus stop, their search for loose change produces a rare zucchini-colored crayon. Little do they know this peculiar treasure is about to launch them into the middle of a plot to conquer the world! The kids’ only hope is to trap the plot’s mastermind when he comes to steal the crayon. But how can three kids from the middle of nowhere stop an evil billionaire? With the help of an eccentric neighbor, an artificially intelligent domino, a DNA-analyzing tray, two hot air balloons, and a cat named Mucus, they just might be able to save the planet.


Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinken
A true crime thriller — the first book for teens to tell the nearly unknown tale of the brazen attempt to steal Abraham Lincoln’s body! The action begins in October of 1875, as Secret Service agents raid the Fulton, Illinois, workshop of master counterfeiter Ben Boyd. Soon after Boyd is hauled off to prison, members of his counterfeiting ring gather in the back room of a smoky Chicago saloon to discuss how to spring their ringleader. Their plan: grab Lincoln’s body from its Springfield tomb, stash it in the sand dunes near Lake Michigan, and demand, as a ransom, the release of Ben Boyd –and $200,000 in cash. From here, the action alternates between the conspirators, the Secret Service agents on their trail, and the undercover agent moving back and forth between the two groups. Along the way readers get glimpses into the inner workings of counterfeiting, grave robbing, detective work, and the early days of the Secret Service. The plot moves toward a wild climax as robbers and lawmen converge at Lincoln’s tomb on election night: November 7, 1876.

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