Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Family Pictures by Jane Green

Book Description via Amazon

Release date: March 19, 2013

New York Times bestseller Jane Green delivers a riveting novel about two women whose lives intersect when a shocking secret is revealed

From the author of Another Piece of My Heart comes Family Pictures, the gripping story of two women who live on opposite coasts but whose lives are connected in ways they never could have imagined. Both women are wives and mothers to children who are about to leave the nest for school. They're both in their forties and have husbands who travel more than either of them would like. They are both feeling an emptiness neither had expected. But when a shocking secret is exposed, their lives are blown apart. As dark truths from the past reveal themselves, will these two women be able to learn to forgive, for the sake of their children, if not for themselves?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Children's Book Roundup March 21

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose

A colleague of mine recommended this book and I absolutely loved it.  So beautifully written, with wonderful characters, if you even remotely liked Little House…you’re going to love this.

Book Description via Amazon

Release date: January 10, 2012 | Age Range: 9 and up | Lexile Measure: 680L

I've known it since last night:
It's been too long to expect them to return.
Something's happened.

"If May is a brave, stubborn fighter, the short, free-verse lines are one-two punches in this Laura Ingalls Wilder-inspired ode to the human spirit," raved Kirkus Reviews in a starred review.

May is helping out on a neighbor's Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it's hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May's memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she's determined to find her way home again. Caroline Starr Rose's fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.

Peanut by Ayun Halliday

This is where book reviews get hard…at what ages are certain themes ok for readers.  Mostly this book is amazing and perfect for middle schoolers; the theme of trying to fit in at a new school is universal.  There is some light cursing (which I personally don’t have an issue with) but my problem lies in a scene in which the kids are talking about autoerotic asphyxiation (they of course don’t use the correct terminology.)  Now my parent bells go off and I start to hesitate.  I am not sure my own kids would even get the reference in the book but still…it makes me stop and think…but the rest of the book is so, so, so good for their age (sixth grade).  The illustrations remind me of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile with a splash of Jennifer Holm’s Babymouse…everything is drawn in grey with splashes of pink that represent Sadie.  So great…for upper middle school/high school…


Book Description via Amazon

Release date: December 26, 2012 | Age Range: 11 and up

"A smart, affecting graphic young adult novel," declares the New York Times.

Before you write me off as a delusional psycho, think about what it's like to be thrown into a situation where everyone knows everyone... and no one knows you. Sadie has the perfect plan to snag some friends when she transfers to Plainfield High—pretend to have a peanut allergy. But what happens when you have to hand in that student health form your unsuspecting mom was supposed to fill out? And what if your new friends want to come over and your mom serves them snacks? (Peanut butter sandwich, anyone?) And then there's the bake sale, when your teacher thinks you ate a brownie with peanuts. Graphic coming-of-age novels have huge cross-over potential, and Peanut is sure to appeal to adults and teens alike.

Machines go to Work in the City by William Low

If you have a truck lovin little person in your house this is a great choice.  Bright colorful pictures mixed with lots of oversized fold out pages makes for a fun read.  Robbie loved this one!

Book Description via Amazon

Release date: June 5, 2012 | Age Range: 2 - 6 years

Toddlers love machines and things that go, and this book gives them everything they want, from a bucket truck to a tower crane to an airplane. Every other spread has an interactive gatefold which extends the original picture to three pages, revealing something new about each situation.

The last spread diagrams each city machine, providing additional information for young readers to pore over again and again.

William Low’s classically-trained artist’s eye adds a new layer to this genre, and both parents and children will appreciate the beautiful illustrations, the attention to detail, and the clever situational twists revealed by lifting the flaps.
Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons
I love Pete the Cat and so does Robbie.  Great colorful illustrations, a rhyming song, and early math skills…win, win, win.
Book Description via Amazon
Release date: May 1, 2012 | Age Range: 4 - 8 years | Series: Pete the Cat | Lexile Measure: 350
Pete the Cat is wearing his favorite shirt—the one with the four totally groovy buttons. But when one falls off, does Pete cry? Goodness, no! He just keeps on singing his song—after all, what could be groovier than three groovy buttons? Count down with Pete in this rocking new story from the creators of the bestselling Pete the Cat books.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Crystal Cove by Lisa Kleypas

CRYSTAL COVE by Lisa Kleypas

Definitely not my favorite book in the series…by a long shot.  That being said, Lisa Kleypas has a way of drawing in my romantic side and I get hooked.  This book had a *much* bigger magical element than all the previous books and for some reason it didn’t totally grab me.  Which kind of surprised me because I typically love paranormal romances – wolves and vampires falling in love?   Yes please.  So while I did dig the romancy parts…overall this is not her best effort…but I will check back for the next installment.


Book Description via Amazon

Release date: February 5, 2013 | Series: Friday Harbor (Book 3)




In New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas's Crystal Cove, Justine Hoffman has made a comfortable life for herself on the island of Friday Harbor. She is the proprietor of a successful boutique hotel, and she has the safe, predictable life she has always wanted. Growing up with her flighty, nomadic mother, Marigold, has instilled in her a deep longing for stability. But in spite of everything Justine has achieved, there is still something missing. Love. And after years of waiting and dreaming, she is willing to do whatever it takes to change her destiny.

What Justine soon discovers is that someone cast a spell on her when she was born, with the result that she will never find her soul mate. Determined to change her fate, Justine finds a way to break the enchantment, never dreaming of the dangerous complications that will follow.

And when Justine meets the mysterious Jason Black, she accidentally unleashes a storm of desire and danger that threaten everything she holds dear . . . because Jason has secrets of his own, and he wants more from her than fate will ever allow.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Children's Books Roundup - March 13


I really enjoyed this and I think your 5th grade (and up) mystery/adventure lovers will too!  It probably will speak more to the girls than the boys…both main characters are girls and there is just a hint of romance…*but* there is enough action to keep the boys hooked.  The setting is gorgeous; as is the cover…and let’s face it…we do judge a book by its cover.  The characters are well developed and likable; Roo with her natural confidence and enthusiasm and Mads with her insecurities – will be relatable to a middle school audience.


Book Description via Amazon

Release date: November 13, 2012 | Age Range: 10 and up

Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me said this book is "brimming with surprises and grand adventure. Brave, smart, and full of heart, Madeline and Ruby are a gust of fresh air."

Mad's dad is the Bird Guy. He'll go anywhere to study birds. So when he's offered a bird-tracking job in Central America, his bags are packed and he's jungle bound.

But going bird tracking in the jungle and disappearing completely are very different things, and when the Very Strange and Incredibly Creepy Letter arrives, Mad can't shake the terrible feeling that her father is in trouble.

Roo, Mad's younger sister, is convinced that the letter is a coded message. And their mom is worried, because the letter doesn't sound like Dad at all. But Mad is sure it's a sign of something sinister.

The only way to get to the bottom of it is to go to Lava Bird Volcano and find their dad themselves. Though they never could have imagined what they're about to discover.

From new talent Helen Phillips, Here Where the Sunbeams Are Green is the story of what can happen when two sisters make some unusual friends, trust in each other, and bravely face a jungle of trouble all to bring their family back together.

LITTLE CUB by Olivier Dunrea

Oh my – I loved this book (and Robbie too)!!!  A cute story of a grumpy old bear who meets a lonely little cub.  A perfect gift for any grandparent.


Book Description via Amazon

Release date: November 27, 2012 | Age Range: 3 - 8 years

A darling companion to Old Bear and His Cub from the New York Times bestselling creator of the Gossie books

What's an Old Bear to do when he finds a Little Cub all alone and afraid of the dark? Adopt him, of course! And help him try to get over his fears. In this book we see the father and son from Old Bear and His Cub meet for the first time--and grow to love one another.

With the same bold art and humorous twist on parenting, Olivier Dunrea's tumbling bears will melt your heart and show how strong the bond is between any father and son pair.


I picked up this book for Robbie because it showed up on a number of starred review lists and I thought we should give it a shot.  The story is funny…which is always a winner around here…and visually very beautiful.  This was a great read for both of us.

Book Description via Amazon

Release date: November 13, 2012 | Age Range: 3 - 7 years

The age-old tale of a boy and his moose . . . now a New York Times bestseller!

Wilfred is a boy with rules. He lives a very orderly life. It's fortunate, then, that he has a pet who abides by rules, such as not making noise while Wilfred educates him on his record collection. There is, however, one rule that Wilfred's pet has difficulty following: Going whichever way Wilfred wants to go. Perhaps this is because Wilfred's pet doesn't quite realize that he belongs to anyone.

A moose can be obstinate in such ways.

Fortunately, the two manage to work out a compromise. Let's just say it involves apples.

Oliver Jeffers, the bestselling creator of Stuck and The Incredible Book Eating Boy, delivers another deceptively simple book sure to make kids giggle.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I don’t even know what to say about this book…without A) gushing and blubbering or B) getting *way* too personal about myself and high school (let’s just all agree that we don’t need to go there).  Just read this…it will tear out your heart in the best possible way.  And if you aren’t already convinced…it takes place in 1986…and she includes all kinds of new wave music references… Smiths, U2, Elvis Costello ect.  This is going to be one of my favorite books of the year…I can already tell. Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2013: While Eleanor & Park is technically classified as YA lit and has a cutesy cover, don’t let the stigma of “books for teens” fool or deter you. It is written about teens, sure, but the themes are so universal that anyone who survived high school will relate to the lives of the two protagonists. Eleanor is the new girl in town and her wild red hair and patchwork outfits are not helping her blend in. She ends up sitting next to Park on the bus, whose tendencies towards comic books don’t jibe with the rest of his family’s love of sports. They sit in awkward silence every day until Park notices that Eleanor is reading his comics over his shoulder; he begins to slide them closer to her side of the seat and thus begins their love story. Their relationship grows gradually--making each other mixed tapes (it is 1986 after all) and discussing X-Men characters--until they both find themselves looking forward to the bus ride more than any other part of the day. Things aren’t easy: Eleanor is bullied at school and then goes home to a threatening family situation; Park’s parents do not approve of Eleanor’s awkward ways. Ultimately, though, this is a book about two people who just really, really like each other and who believe that they can overcome any obstacle standing in the way of their happiness. It’s a gem of a book. --Caley Anderson

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Children's Book Roundup

CODE BUSTERS CLUB #1 by Penny Warner

Have a mini sleuth on your hands?  A kid who loves to solve puzzles?  This is the book for them.  The Code Busters Club is a group of middle school kids who like to work with all different kinds of codes and puzzles…and one day, they find themselves in the middle of a real life mystery.  While the characters are all in seventh grade…this is a great book for 8 and up.  The chapters are short but action packed!  Mixed within each chapter are mini puzzles for the reader to solve (all the answers are given in the back so don’t worry about kids getting overly frustrated.)    

Book Description

Release date: October 9, 2012 | Age Range: 9 and up | Series: Code Busters Club (Book 1)

"Readers are active participants . . . and are frequently invited to solve classic forms of code, such as Morse and semaphores. This intriguing tale has vivid characters and such a tantalizing cliffhanger that readers won’t be able to resist cracking the next Code Busters."—Kirkus Reviews

Cody, Quinn, Luke, and M.E. may be really different, but they all share one thing in common: they love playing around with codes. In fact, they love codes so much, they have their own private club, with a super-secret hideout and passwords that change every single day.

When Cody and Quinn notice what could be a code on the window of a nearby house, the one owned by their strange neighbor, the guy they call Skeleton Man, the club gets to work. And it is a cry for help!

Now the Code Busters are on the case—and nothing will stop them from solving the mystery and finding the secret treasure that seems to be the cause of it all!

This exciting interactive mystery offers more than fifteen codes for you to decipher, including the Consonant code, Morse code, and American Sign Language. Test your brain with the Code Busters and solve the mystery along with them. Answers are in the back, if you ever get stuck.

For more code-breaking fun, visit and join the club!
Ages 8–12

WHERE’S WALRUS by Stephen Savage

This is a wordless picture book…which I really like for developing language.  I was able to ask Robbie what he thought was going on in the story and even come up with alternative stories.  It helped that that walrus got himself into all kinds of silly situation…my kid loves funny.  Solid thumbs up.

Book Description via Amazon
Publication Date: February 1, 2011 | Age Range: 3 - 5 years

A happy-go-lucky Walrus escapes the zoo in search of adventure in this wordless instant classic.

Bored with life at the zoo, an adventurous walrus escapes to the outside world. With the zookeeper in hot pursuit, Walrus cleverly tries on all sorts of hats to disguise himself. Will a yellow hardhat point to a new life as a construction worker? Or will a red swimming cap reveal his true talents? Follow the happy-go-lucky runaway as he hides amongst firefighters, businessmen, and even high-stepping dancers in this delightful wordless picture book.


Oh Mo, you have done it yet again…and you continue to maintain your position on my favorite author list.  First let’s start with the fact that it is a fractured fairy tale – squeal of delight.  This is a clever and seriously funny take on Goldilocks and the three bears.  And while my Robbie did miss some of the more subtle funnies, in which I literally LOL’d, he did get the bigger laughs.  Older kids, who really understand irony, will really appreciate the full story.

Book Description via Amazon
Release date: September 4, 2012 | Age Range: 4 - 8 years

Once upon a time, there were three hungry Dinosaurs: Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur . . . and a Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway.
One day—for no particular reason—they decided to tidy up their house, make the beds, and prepare pudding of varying temperatures. And then—for no particular reason—they decided to go . . . someplace else. They were definitely not setting a trap for some succulent, unsupervised little girl.
Definitely not!
This new take on a fairy-tale classic is so funny and so original—it could only come from the brilliant mind of Mo Willems.