Win an ARC of The Lost Saint Plus Some Cool Nail Polish!

Thursday December 16, 2010

The Lost Saint: A Dark Divine Novel
by Bree Despain
December 28th 2010


Fans of The Dark Divine who have been itching to sink their teeth into the sequel, The Lost Saint ($17.99, 12-up), will NOT be disappointed! The exhilarating sequel that’s set for release on December 28, 2010, delivers the same sizzling romance and thrilling action as Bree Despain’s first novel. Hot new characters, darker plot twists, and tons of romance and action will make this book irresistible to tweens and twihards alike.

Grace Divine sacrificed her soul to cure Daniel Kalbi and lost her beloved brother in the process. Desperate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot – a newcomer to town who promises he can help her be a hero. But as the two become closer, the wolf grows in Grace, and her relationship with Daniel is put in danger – in more ways than one.

Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace begins to give into the wolf – not realizing that an enemy has returned and a deadly trap is about to be sprung.

The Dark Divine is as hot as ever! X-men producers Ralph Winter and Terry Botwick recently acquired the rights to Despain’s trilogy series, and readers are dying to get their hands on her second novel.

 Prize: An Arc of The Lost Saint
and Some Very Cool "The Lost Saint" Blue Nail polish!
*Must be a follower to win*

Please enter a comment below with your email address.
Contest open until December 28, 2010
This is the day The Lost Saint will be available in stores

Good luck!

Waiting on Wednesday (32)

Wednesday December 15, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday...books I can't wait to read hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

Kiss of Death 
Scarlett Wakefield #4
by Lauren Henderson
May 10, 2011
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Goodreads Summary: Scarlett thought Dan McAndrew's murder was long behind her, but when she and her classmates arrive in Edinburgh for a weeklong field trip, she's startled to be joined by her old St. Tabby's cohorts--and enemies--who are visiting the area on a field trip as well. Even more startling, Callum, Dan's surviving twin, is in the area--and his cold treatment leaves Scarlett wondering what's changed, especially when a series of attacks makes her believe that someone's out to get her for her past mistakes. 

Would Callum ever hurt her, though? And what's Scarlett to make of her conflicting feelings for Callum, now that Jase isn't around? Even more upsetting, why is her most trusted confidante, Taylor, acting distant and dismissive?

Why I can't wait...I  loved the first three books in the series. Scarlett is a great character and the author never fails to surprise me with new twists and turns!

Also, these books are SUPER popular in the for all you middle school and high school librarians, you have a sure hit here!

First three books:

Kiss Me, Kill Me #1
Kisses and Lies #2
Kisses in the Dark  #3

Blog Tour - Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins and Other Nasties: A Practical Guide by Miss Edythe McFate

Tuesday December 14, 2010

Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins and Other Nasties: A Practical Guide by Miss Edythe McFate
by  Lesley M.M. Blume
Illustrated by David Foote
Random House
September 2010
Summary: In this luxuriously illustrated guidebook, preeminent fairy expert Miss Edythe McFate shares her knowledge of the modern fairy world and includes practical advice on matters such as how to tell a good fairy from a bad one, how to spot a “fairy ring,” how to tell the difference between dwarves and trolls (one species is far deadlier than the other), and how to defend against fairies who would do you harm. Also included are eight true cautionary tales about children who have encountered fairies in ultramodern New York City.

A note from Miss Edythe....

To:      The children of the world
From:  Miss Edythe McFate
Re:      The wondrous, dangerous world of modern fairies – READ IMMEDIATELY!

My name is Miss Edythe McFate, and once you’ve read my practical guide to modern fairies, you will never see the world around you in the same way again.

Perhaps you think fairies are figments of the imagination, or even relics of an ancient past.  You may even think that all fairies are lovely winged creatures who dance in bluebell fields, granting wishes to anyone who encounters them.

You would be wrong on all counts.

Fairies are very much alive today, and they are everywhere – in our cities, our backyards, and even our kitchen cupboards.  Some of them are indeed the sweet-tempered winged creatures of folklore, but the fairy family also includes goblins, trolls, brownies, and other strange creatures – some of which are revealed in this book for the very first time.  While many fairy breeds are harmless, others can be quite nasty or even dangerous.

In my luxuriously-illustrated guidebook, I share my knowledge of the modern fairy world and include practical advice on matters such as:

* How to tell a good fairy from a bad one,
* How to spot a “fairy ring,”
* How to tell the difference between dwarves and trolls (one species is far deadlier than the other),
* How to defend against fairies who would do you harm,

… and much, much more.  Also included: eight true cautionary tales about children your age who have encountered fairies in ultramodern New York City.  You would be advised to read my book closely, lest you find yourself in your own fairy encounter.  

After all, forewarned is forearmed...

My two cents...I really enjoyed these eight stories set in modern day New York city. Original and a little on the dark side, these unique tales are a refreshing twist on traditional fairy lore. Excellent buy for upper elementary and middle school. 

Book Review - The Lying Game by Sara Shepard and Why I'm Irritated...

Monday December 13, 2010

The Lying Game
by Sara Shepard
Harper Teen
December 7, 2010
Goodreads Summary: I had a life anyone would kill for.
Then someone did.

The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does—an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.

Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me—to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, carefree daughter when she hugs my parents good night? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?

Review:  I. Am. So. Irritated. Seriously, I have spent years honing my fine literary taste with the likes of Vonnegut, Salinger, Austin, Steinbeck and Plath. Each read a virtual experience of linguistic aerobics. I am very picky in what I read...I try not to pollute the pond, so to speak. I really ONLY want to read something that is going to be life changing, enhancing and/or make me sound smarter when I tell people I read it....ha, ha had you going didn't I? 

Anyway, in all seriousness :) I will pretty much read anything you  put in front of me until A) I'm offended or B) I'm bored. Why all the blither blather? I'm going to admit something...I've always steered clear of YA/Teen series like The Clique, Gossip Girls and Pretty Little Liars. I just couldn't see myself really loving these types of books. Now I hope I'm not offending anyone by lumping all those books together, like I said, never read any of 'em!

So, when I received an ARC of The Lying Game by Sara Shepard who, as I'm sure you know by now, is the author of the Pretty Little Liars series, I thought "hmmmm, this should be interesting!" I picked the book up Sunday morning and between laundry, buying groceries and making dinner, I finished it later that day....yes, I couldn't stop reading because I had to see what happened! I raced through it at a devilish pace, devouring every detail trying to unravel the mystery!

Traveling with Emma as she tries to find clues and as Sutton, beyond the grave, tries to remember what happened, it was easy to slip right into the plot as Emma realizes that Sutton's murderer could be anyone around her. Over and over she would eliminate a possible suspect only to have that same person reemerge as a suspect once again. In addition to the terror of knowing there is a murderer in her midst, Emma must also live in constant fear of being found out, what if someone realizes she is NOT Sutton? Maybe somebody already has.....

A super fun mystery that is sure to please! There is some mention of sex, drugs and alcohol but nothing gratuitous. I recommend for ages 14 and up.

 Oh, and I guess I really am a little irritated...I have to wait until July 2011 to read the next book in the series!

In My Mailbox (50)

Sunday December 12, 2010
In My Mailbox hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea @ Pop Culture Junkie is a way to share what new books you get each week.  They can be books you borrowed from the library, bought, traded, won or received for review.

Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyers
Vampire Crush by A.M. Robinson
Origins: The Vampire Diaries, Stefan's Diaries Vol. 1 by L.J. Smith

A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux
Alberic the Wise and Other Journeys by Norton Juster

From the Book Blogger Holiday Swap!
Jane by April Lindner
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
A Book Lovers Journal and a book thong (see it on the cover of Jane)!
Thanks Michele @ A Reader's Respite!

P.S. If you are in the holiday swap and haven't received your gifts yet...its probably me, I'm running a bit behind this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Top Five Friday!

Friday December 10, 2010
Recently I have started asking kids at my school to nominate a book each week if they really liked it and to give me a short reason why. Each week I will pull five of the nominated books and post them here on Le Blog.

Just FYI...the student nomination blurbs are direct quotes from my middle school kids. I fix the spelling errors for the most part but to stay true to the kids, I didn't change any of the actual wording!

by Allan Stratton
Goodreads Summary: The truth is closing in. Life's not easy for Sami Sabiri since his dad stuck him at a private school where he's the only Muslim kid. But it's about to get a lot worse.
When Sami catches his father in a lie, he gets suspicious. . . . He's not the only one. In a whirlwind, the FBI descends on his home, and Sami's family becomes the center of an international terrorist investigation. Now Sami must fight to keep his world from unraveling.

An explosive thriller ripped from today's headlines, borderline is the story of a funny, gutsy Muslim-American teen determined to save his father, his family, and his life.

Student Nomination: "I nominated this book because it is awesome! Reading about how a Muslim kid has to deal with racism and stuff because of their religion made me really think about how hard it must be. This book is exciting and it was fun to read about the FBI too."

The Ivy 
by Lauren Kunze w/ Rina Onur
Goodreads Summary: Congratulations! You have been admitted to the most prestigious university in the world. Now what are you going to do? Callie Andrews may not have money or connections or the right clothes, and she may have way too many complications in her love life, what with

the guy she loves to hate ...
the guy she'd love to forget ...
the guy she'd love to love ...
and Matt
the guy she really should love ...
all vying for her attention.

But she has three fantastic roommates (best friends or her worst nightmare?) and a wholesome California-girl reputation (oops) and brains and beauty and big, big dreams. Will it be enough to help her survive freshman year at Harvard?

Student Nomination: "I nominated this book because I really liked it and the story was easy to get into. It talked a lot about what can happen in college. The good and the bad things. It was easy for me to get into this book because I really want to go to college and I kept picturing myself in the place of Callie and all the stuff she was dealing with. The story talks about all the fun stuff that you can do with your freedom after high school but it also shows bad things that can happen if you make bad choices. I think all kids should read this book so they know what to look out for! I told all my friends to read this book too!"

by Sophie Jordan
Goodreads Summary: With her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special even among the draki—the descendants of dragons who can shift between human and dragon forms. But when Jacinda’s rebelliousness leads her family to flee into the human world, she struggles to adapt, even as her draki spirit fades. The one thing that revives it is Will, whose family hunts her kind. Jacinda can’t resist getting closer to him, even though she knows she’s risking not only her life but the draki’s most closely guarded secret.

Student Nomination: "Firelight is a really good book because it has an original story that I've never read about before. The idea that she can be a dragon and a human is really cool. The best part of the story of course is the romance between Jacinda and Will. I told all my friends who liked Twilight to read this one too because they won't be disappointed! I hope there is a another book (sequel) because I'm still wondering about some things that happened in the book. I really loved this book!"

Middleworld (The Jaguar Stones, Book 1)
by J&P Voelkel

Goodreads Summary: In the ancient city of Itzamna, Lord Six-Rabbit wakes up screaming. A great warrior king of the mighty Maya, he has dreamed he was a lowly, flea-bitten monkey. How could this be? Was this some sorcery sent by his half-brother, Tzelok, the evil priest?

1200 years later, in Boston, Massachusetts, 14-old Max Murphy is looking forward to a family vacation. But his parents, both archaeologists and Maya experts, announce a change in plan. They must leave immediately for a dig in San Xavier, the tiny Central American country where his father grew up. Max will go to summer camp. Max is furious. He's always suspected that his parents cared more about the Ancient May than about him and this proves it. When he's mysteriously summoned to San Xavier, he thinks they've had a change of heart. But he's met at the airport by one of their colleagues, who explains that his parents have gone missing at the remote Maya temple of Ix Chel. He also tells Max the legend of The Jaguar Stones, the five sacred stones of Middleworld (the Maya name for the world of men) which enabled Ancient Mayan kings to wield the powers of living gods.

Student Nomination: "I thought this book was cool because it was like Indiana Jones but for kids. In the sixth grade we learned a lot about the Maya so it was cool to read about some of the legends in the book. I like adventure stories so that is why I liked this book."

Nancy and Plum
by Betty MacDonald

Goodreads Summary: It was Christmas Eve. Big snowflakes fluttered slowly through the air like white feathers and made all of Heavenly Valley smooth and white and quiet and beautiful.

So begins the story of two orphaned sisters at Mrs. Monday’s Boarding School. But nothing is heavenly for Nancy and Pamela (aka Plum): their parents died in a tragic accident years ago, they’re constantly punished by the cruel Mrs. Monday, and they’re all alone for the holidays.

Luckily, Nancy and Plum have each other, and though their prospects may be bleak, they’re determined to change their lot for the better. If their plan works, the spirited sisters will never spend Christmas at the cold, dark boarding school again. But what will they find on the other side of Mrs. Monday’s gate?

Adventure, warmth, unforgettable characters, and unexpected kindness abound in this classic story by Betty MacDonald, which was originally published in 1952. With illustrations by the acclaimed Mary GrandPré and an introduction by Jeanne Birdsall, National Book Award–winning author of The Penderwicks, this edition introduces the spunky, beloved heroines to a new generation of fans.

Student Nomination: "At first I wasn't sure if I would like this book because I was getting really mad about all the mean stuff that Mrs. Monday did to them (Nancy and Plum). The story is about how hard their lives are after their parents die and they run away from the boarding home. They have a lot of dreams about what they want. Because they are sisters they care about each other and take care of each other after they run away. I was glad about the happy ending."

Kindle Retrospect and Discovering New Authors

Thursday December 9, 2010

Okay, I know that I have said that Kindle's were the devil and that I would be a hardcore traditional book fan forever and ever. As I've said can one cuddle up with a blanket, get cozy and read a piece of hardware? The whole thing just feels weird to me! Anyway, I digress...a few days ago my husband (who notoriously gives Christmas presents early because he is so excited to give them) handed me my present. What was it? Maybe you've already guessed...yes, he bought me a Kindle? Why? Somewhere along the way he figured I needed to at least try it.....

Well, I let it sit there for a day or two, I'd glance at it every so often but unwilling to actually turn it on and see what it had to offer. Finally, last Saturday my curiosity got the best of me. The first thing I did was go to the Kindle store and I wanted to see what the Best Sellers were for YA and Teen a librarian I should know this right??? Anyway, I perused the many books offered and I came upon an author I've never heard of, plus the ebook was only 99 cents! It was number twelve on the Teen top sellers so I thought what the heck and bought it. Well, I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised! I zipped right through it and bought the sequel (this one was $2.99, but still!) It was great too, I can't wait for book number 3 to come out in January! Here they are...

Switched (Trylle Trilogy #1)
by Amanda Hocking
When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy discovers her mother might have been right.

With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - a world both beautiful and frightening, and Wendy's not sure she wants to be a part of it. 

Torn (Trylle Trilogy #2)
Wendy thought she finally understood who she was and what she wanted, but everything changes when the rival Vittra come after her.

She's caught between two worlds, torn between love and duty, and she must decide what  life she is meant to lead.

Ascend, Trylle Trilogy Book #3 is coming out in January 2011

Visit the Trylle Trilogy Webiste HERE

Because I like this series so much I also downloaded another of the authors books....
It's about zombies and it's creepy and it's awesome...

"This is the way the world ends; not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door."

Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way - not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.

I'm not quite done with this one but it is really good and really creepy! Anyway, not really book reviews but a recommendation for a newly found author :)

P.S. I will still ALWAYS prefer a book, but I don't detest the Kindle as much as I used to...they serve a purpose :)

Waiting on Wednesday (31)

Wednesday December 8, 2010 

Waiting on Wednesday...books I can't wait to read hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

by Maurissa Guibord
Published January 11th 2011
Delacorte Press 
Goodreads Summary: Tessa doesn't believe in magic. Or Fate. But there's something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. 

When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa's own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa's life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.

Why I can't wait....

  • Fated lives
  • Historical-Paranormal-Romance...sweet!
  • Possible unicorn connection?
  • Gorgeous cover
  • Unknown scary enemy!
I'm in!

Tween Tuesdays (19)

Tuesday December 7, 2010

Tween Tuesdays is a meme I first saw at Green Bean Teen Queen and really liked because she is also a librarian who deals with teens and tweens. So, since most of my blog is devoted to YA and teen books I figured that on Tuesdays I can do posts for all the tweeners out there!

Three great books this week!

The Forbidden Sea
by Sheila A. Nielson
July 2010
Goodreads Summary: When Adrianne comes face-to-face with the mermaid of Windwaithe Island, of whom she has heard terrible stories all her life, she is convinced the mermaid means to take her younger sister. Adrianne, fierce-willed and courageous, is determined to protect her sister from the mermaid, and her family from starvation. However, the mermaid continues to haunt Adrianne in her dreams and with her song. 

Yet, when the islanders find out about Adrianne's encounters with the mermaid she is scorned, for this small and superstitious community believes the mermaid will bring devastation to the island if Adrianne does not give herself to the sea.

A powerful and lyrical story of one girl who must choose between having everything and having those she loves.

Review: A fun new paranormal twist on the Cinderella tale. Adrianne is living a hard life on her island where she is mostly ignored by boys who prefer prettier and wealthier girls than herself. After an experience with a mermaid, Adrianne is left with a choice....leave her human life behind and live a fairy tale among the mermaids or stick around for the people she loves. A little bit of suspense mixed in with romance makes for a great read and of course the mermaid aspect of the story will appeal to the paranormal crowd!
Touch Blue
by Cynthia Lord
August 2010
Goodreads Summary: The state of Maine plans to shut down her island’s schoolhouse, which would force Tess’s family to move to the mainland--and Tess to leave the only home she has ever known. Fortunately, the islanders have a plan too: increase the numbers of students by having several families take in foster children. So now Tess and her family are taking a chance on Aaron, a thirteen-year-old trumpet player who has been bounced from home to home. And Tess needs a plan of her own--and all the luck she can muster. Will Tess’s wish come true or will her luck run out? 

Newbery Honor author Cynthia Lord offers a warm-hearted, humorous, and thoughtful look at what it means to belong--and how lucky we feel when we do. Touch Blue, sure as certain, will touch your heart

Review: Like most of you out there I totally adored the book Rules which is also written by Cynthia Lord, so I was excited and happy to receive this particular read for review!  Tess is a more-than-likable girl who loves her life on the island. When Aaron comes to live with her family Tess must step outside her own wants and help Aaron adjust to his new home. After being tossed around from family to family while in foster care he has become resentful and would rather go home to his alcoholic mother. Tess just wants Aaron to be as happy as she is but things aren't working out exactly how she planned. A true coming of age story set against the backdrop of a loving, heartwarming island community. I think I especially liked this book because of its underlying theme...whatever happens, happens for reason.

Book Review - Wildthorn Hall by Jane Eagland

Monday December 6, 2010

by Jane Eagland
Published September 6th 2010 
by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children 
(first published February 6th 2009) 
Goodreads Summary: They strip her naked, of everything—undo her whalebone corset, hook by hook. Locked away in Wildthorn Hall—a madhouse—they take her identity. She is now called Lucy Childs. She has no one; she has nothing. But, she is still seventeen—still Louisa Cosgrove, isn't she? Who has done this unthinkable deed? Louisa must free herself, in more ways than one, and muster up the courage to be her true self, all the while solving her own twisted mystery and falling into an unconventional love . . . Originally published in the UK, this well-paced, provocative romance pushes on boundaries—both literal and figurative—and, do beware: it will bind you, too.

Review:  This is one of those reads where you think you kind of know what the book is going to be about and then, in the end, you really didn't. First off, I really love the cover..the corset with its dual symbolism of both beauty and pain is also a great metaphor for the heart of this story... the binding repression of women through out history. 

Louisa Cosgrove has never been the good, compliant daughter that her mother has always wanted.  Instead of making the social rounds with her mother, or playing with dolls and drinking tea, Louisa would rather be studying about medicine and going with her father as he visits his patients. Lucky for Louisa, her inquisitive nature and modern ways are somewhat supported by her loving father. Her mother and brother Tom on the other hand, are embarrassed and distressed by Louisa's nontraditional aspirations. 

After a series of events, Louisa is sent to stay with a family as a favor to her brother, but where she ends up is nothing like she expected.  What she thinks is the household she will be staying in, is actually Wildthorn Hall....a madhouse full of women who have been deemed "unfit" to live in society. What Louisa finds out is that society's definition of crazy is often a broad term used to define women who don't fit into tightly knit roles that men have ascribed to them. 

Through out Louisa's struggles to reclaim her real name and identity there is the underlying mystery of who exactly had her committed to Wildthorn Hall. Her suspicions lead her to believe that it is her uptight traditional minded brother, but as Louisa figures out how to find her freedom, she also discovers exactly who had her sent away in the first place.....a discovery that will change her life forever. 

While Louisa is trying to find her way out of the cruel and repressive Wildthorn Hall, she meets a few kind hearts who help her along the way. One person in particular may have the key to her freedom as well as her heart.

A keen look into horrid, repressive ways that women have been treated through out history when they did not "behave" themselves in society's expected ways. We also discover that a place such as Wildthorn Hall was also a depository for women who "complicated" the lives of men (unbwanted pregnancies etc.) A real eye opener that will leave some readers finding it hard to believe. The ending is a probable and realistic depiction of the lives of those who loved "unconventionally" for the times.

In My Mailbox (49)

Sunday December 5, 2010
In My Mailbox hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea @ Pop Culture Junkie is a way to share what new books you get each week.  They can be books you borrowed from the library, bought, traded, won or received for review.

When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer
Wish by Joseph Monninger
The Fiend and the Forge (The Tapestry #3) by Henry H. Neff

Vixen (The Flappers #1) by Jillian Larkin
Teenage Waistland by Lynn Biederman & Lisa Pazer

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers

Waiting on Wednesday (30)

Wednesday December 1, 2010 

Waiting on Wednesday...books I can't wait to read hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

Imaginary Girls
by Nova Ren Suma
June 13, 2011
Dutton Books
Goodreads Summary: Chloe’s older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can’t be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby’s friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns home two years later, a precarious and deadly balance waits. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

Imaginary Girls is a masterfully distorted vision of family reminiscent of Shirley Jackson, laced with twists that beg for their secrets to be kept. 

Sounds delish huh! Way mysterious plus sisters and secrets...yum! Oh and the cover is gorgeous!

Book Reviewing 101: Adding Some Depth to Those Reviews!

Friday November 26, 2010

There has been a LOT of discussion lately on Twitter and review blogs on the basis and validity of negative versus "book-bashing" reviews.  I think that a huge part of this lies in the fact that despite being a book lover,and avid reader, not everyone is experienced enough to provide a thoughtful, honest critical literary review. So, with that in mind (and of course being a teacher) I put together a lesson plan of sorts to help anyone interested learn the basics of writing a good critical review. I say this because not every blogger is interested in doing reviews somewhat formally, and I totally understand this. This info is to help reviewers who want to add some depth to their reviews.

This is not a comprehensive list and I am not an expert in writing book reviews. In fact, putting this post together has made me think about my own reviews and what they are lacking. I'm sure we all have those days when we aren't in the mood, so we hastily put together a review and post it, but I think one of my New Year's resolutions will be to make sure most :) of my reviews really stick to the guidelines below.

Book Review Helpful Hints and Guidelines...

Before we start here are some words of wisdom from the UNC Writing Center

  • Review the book in front of you, not the book you wish the author had written. You can and should point out shortcomings or failures, but don't criticize the book for not being something it was never intended to be.
  • With any luck, the author of the book worked hard to find the right words to express her ideas. You should attempt to do the same. Precise language allows you to control the tone of your review.
  • Never hesitate to challenge an assumption, approach, or argument. Be sure, however, to cite specific examples to back up your assertions carefully.
  • Try to present a balanced argument about the value of the book for its audience. You're entitled—and sometimes obligated—to voice strong agreement or disagreement. But keep in mind that a bad book takes as long to write as a good one, and every author deserves fair treatment. Harsh judgments are difficult to prove and can give readers the sense that you were unfair in your assessment.

With that in mind, let's begin!

First provide all the basic info like:
Book title
Book release date

You can also provide ISBN, links to purchase the book, links to the authors or books website and/or anything else you think would be helpful.

Next provide a basic summary of the book. Goodreads or the publisher website usually provides this. What is really important is that you don’t give away ANY of the major plot elements that will ruin the story for the reader!

By no means do you have to include ALL of the following in your review. These are just some elements for you to consider when writing it. Whether you liked the book or not, I think it is always a good idea to give supporting details. Instead of saying “I hated this character because she was so annoying.” You can comment on character development and vice-versa if you loved a character.

Looking at all the following questions will also help a reviewer in finding positive aspects of a book they didn’t love. For example, maybe you didn’t like the characters but the setting was detailed and enhanced the story.  

  • From what point of view is the the book narrated?
  • What genre would you classify the book? (Horror, Sci-fi, Dystopian) Find common genres HERE

  • Who are the main characters?
  • What is the author's attitude toward his characters?
  • Are the characters flat or three-dimensional?
  • Does character development occur?

  • What is/are the major theme(s)?
  • How are they revealed and developed?
  • Is the theme traditional and familiar, or new and original? Link to some common themes HERE
  • Is the theme moralistic, psychological, social, entertaining, escapist, etc. in purpose or intent?

  • How are the various elements of plot (introduction, suspense, climax, conclusion) handled?
  • What is the relationship of plot to character description?
  • To what extent, and how, is accident employed as a complicating and/or resolving force?
  • What are the elements of mystery and suspense?
  • What other devices of plot complication and resolution are employed?
  • Is there a sub-plot and how is it related to the main plot?
  • Is the plot primary or secondary to some of the other essential elements of the story (character, setting, style, etc.)?

  • What are the intellectual qualities of the writing (simplicity, clarity, conciseness, balance)
  • What are the emotional qualities of the writing? (humor, black humor, wit, satire, tragedy, empathy)
  • What are the aesthetic qualities of the writing? ( rhythm, illustrations, structure, time shifting, coincidence, dualism, imagery, fantasy, suspense, analysis, humor/cynicism, and thinking aloud)
  • Does the author use in specific literary devices that hinder or enhance the overall story? (red herring, analogy, poetic justice, irony) Find a complete list HERE
  • How effective is dialogue? Effective dialogue moves the plot forward. It deepens, or layers, characterization. It creates immediacy and intimacy, and it subtly conveys information and emotions capable of sparking reader empathy. Read more about dialogue HERE.

  • What is the setting and does it play a significant role in the work?
  • Is a sense of atmosphere suggested, and how?
  • What scenic effects are used and how important and effective are they?
  • Does the setting influence or impinge on the characters and/or plot?

This is not an absolute list of course, just things to think about when writing a review. If you have a comment or something you'd like to add to the list please let me know

If you think this list is helpful, spread the word!

I found bits and pieces of the basis of this list all over the web but I mainly referred to this website....

In My Mailbox (48)

Sunday November 21, 2010
In My Mailbox hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea @ Pop Culture Junkie is a way to share what new books you get each week.  They can be books you borrowed from the library, bought, traded, won or received for review.

A nice surprise this week from Harper! Lots of yummy books to read :) I loved the first Wereling book so I'm looking forward to Dark Moon too!

Hope you had a great week too!

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Fallen Angel by Heather Terrell
Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

Entwined by Heather Dixon
Teeth: Vampire Tales, edited by Ellen Datlow, with contributions by Neil Gaiman, Melissa Marr, Cassandra Claire and Holly Black and more.

Book Review - The Ruby Notebook by Laura Resau

Friday November 19, 2010

Note: The following is a guest review by my principal here at HMS, Elaine C. Thanks Elaine!

The Ruby Notebook 
by Laura Resau
September 2010
Delacorte Press
Goodreads Summary: Sixteen-year-old Zeeta and her flighty English-teaching mom, Layla, have traveled the world together, settling in a different country every year, making a whole new set of friends and adopting new customs. This year, they’ve chosen to live in Aix-en-Provence, France, an enchanting city full of fountains, creamy yellow light, and a fascinating group of scarlet-clad street performers.

Zeeta soon begins to receive mysterious notes and gifts from someone she calls her fantôme, or ghost, admirer. But she is expecting her boyfriend, Wendell—the love of her life, as her friends call him—to arrive in Aix for a summer program very soon. Zeeta brushes off her curiosity about her fantôme, and her simmering attraction to one of the street performers, Jean-Claude, until Wendell arrives and she begins to fear that her feelings for him have truly changed. Perhaps—like Layla—she’s simply not made for long-term romance.

As Zeeta tries to draw away from Wendell, however, circumstances seem to force them together. Zeeta’s friendship with a local antiques dealer and his reclusive artist friend leads to a dangerous adventure. When Zeeta and Wendell join forces to find a secret underground spring whose water is rumored to bring immortality, they are forced to reconsider their own desires, and their beliefs about true love. Yet as soon as Zeeta decides that her mind has cleared, she’s confronted with the biggest shock of her life: the incredible true identity of her fantôme.
Vibrant, warmhearted, and evocative, The Ruby Notebook is a remarkable novel about learning to accept love in all of its wondrous and imperfect forms.

Review: In this follow up to The Indigo Notebook we again take an intriguing look at the free-spirited lifestyle of an artist mother which she has also imposed on her 16 year old daughter Zeeta. Their latest adventure is a move to Aix en Provence, France (another addition to the 16 countries they have lived in.) Zeeta is trying to live somewhat normal life and keep Wendell, the boyfriend from Ecuador who had been adopted by US parents, as her true love for more than a year.  Zeeta struggles with making a life, new friends, and new school requirements as she and her mother live in a new country each year.  

When Wendell finally arrives, Zeeta has already started her new friends among the gypsies, including Jean-Claude, a handsome singer and player for street performers.  Her feelings for Jean-Claude and the disconnect between her and Wendell begin the conflict of her old life versus her new one.  Even more mysterious is Wendell's ability to have visions of the future, including Zeeta in a new red dress and water.  As Wendell joins Zeeta's search for the Fountain of Youth and her fantome's identity, Wendell and Zeeta search for the truth and for the love of each other.

An enjoyable read with beautiful detailed settings interwoven with a little bit of mystery and a touch of magic!

This is me, this is my library :)

Thursday November 18, 2010

Every year the computer class does teacher profiles for our school website. I thought I would share my page from this years class so you can see me in my natural habitat :)

Enjoy...and laugh...

Tween Tuesdays (18)

Tuesday November 16, 2010

Tween Tuesdays is a meme I first saw at Green Bean Teen Queen and really liked because she is also a librarian who deals with teens and tweens. So, since most of my blog is devoted to YA and teen books I figured that on Tuesdays I can do posts for all the tweeners out there!

The Coming of the Dragon
by Rebecca Barnhouse
October 2010
Random House
Goodreads summary: Rebecca Barnhouse weaves Norse gods, blood feuds, and a terrifying dragon into this spectacular retelling of the end of the Old English poem Beowulf.

When he was a baby, Rune washed up onshore in a boat, along with a sword and a pendant bearing the runes that gave him his nickname. Some people thought he was a sacrifice to the gods and wanted to send him right back to the sea. Luckily for Rune, King Beowulf disagreed. He lifted the boy from the boat and gave him to Amma, a wisewoman living on a farm far removed from the king’s hall, to raise as she saw fit.

Sixteen years later, Rune spends his summers laboring on the farm. And at King Beowulf’s request, he comes to the hall each winter for weapons training. But somehow he never quite fits in. Many people still fear he will bring a curse on the kingdom. Then a terrible thing happens. On a lonely crag on a mountain that belongs to the giants, someone awakens a dragon. It is time for Rune to find the warrior inside himself and prove to the doubters once and for all that he is a true hero.

My thoughts....This is an imaginative tale that focuses on a certain character towards the end of the story Beowulf. In the original story Wiglaf goes with Beowulf to seek out a dragon that has attacked Great-Land. This is the first time Wiglaf has gone to war at Beowulf's side and he proves to him what a great and noble warrior he is. When Beowulf damages his sword wounding the dragon and is burned by the dragon's fire,Wiglaf is the only man fighting with Beowulf to overcome his fear of the dragon and stays by Beowulf's side. He maintains his courage and goes to Beowulf's aid crying words of encouragement. Ultimately, Beowulf names Wiglaf the heir to his kingdom.

The author focuses on this part of the Beowulf story and adds depth and detail of her own to weave an intricate coming-of-age story of a young boy, Rune (although not a part of the original tale, this is the nickname given to Wiglaf in the book.) An author's note at the end of the book states that her story is weaved around questions she has always had about the Beowulf tale...What was it about that dragon that scared away even the noblest of warriors? What was it about Wiglaf that gave him the courage to stay?

This would make an excellent classroom read to add depth to any lessons regarding the Beowulf poem. An adventurous, dragon-slaying tale that is a must for middle school libraries!

What's Your St@us by Katie Finn

Monday November 15, 2010

What’s Your St@tus?
A TOP 8 Novel
by Katie Finn

Sixteen-year-old Madison still loves logging on to Friendverse to see what her BFFs and her cute new boyfriend Nate are up to. But the latest social networking craze is Status Q, which is all about rapid-fire status updates. When one of Mad’s friends has to pull off a high-pressure heist, the gang relies on Status Q to send code messages to each other…all in the middle of a school dance! Will up-to-the-minute social networking save the day…or lead to good old-fashioned disaster?

Madison MacDonald thinks things are finally working out!

Followers: 300

Status Updates:

mad_mac         Nate and I have been together for two months, and it’s wonderful!  Life is good!

mad_mac         Well, except for the fact that I still might be failing history.

mad_mac         And I no longer have a BFF.

mad_mac         But aside from those things!

mad_mac         Okay.  So, um, apparently I’ve just been put in charge of the school’s priceless heirloom.

mad_mac         And the assistant headmaster has a vendetta against me.

mad_mac         And it seems I’m being blackmailed.

mad_mac         Gathering together a crew. I’m going to try and pull off a heist.  Without getting caught. Or expelled. Or arrested.

mad_mac         Also, I think I may have just accidentally wrecked my relationship. . . .

Madison MacDonald is trying not to panic.

 My Thoughts...This is one of those books that I will have a hard time keeping in the library. Once the word spreads it will be on hold until I scrape up the $$$ to get a few more copies! The mix of social media sites and of course the usual teen angst will keep readers turning the pages. Nothing too deep here, just a good old fashioned fun and fluffy read!

Katie Finn is the author of Top 8 and What’s Your St@tus?. She lives and writes in Los Angeles. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @katiefinnwrites and visit her online at

First book in the series: