Monday, November 30, 2009

Looking Like Me by Walter Dean Myers, Illustrated by Christopher Myers

Release Date: Available Now from EgmontUSA

Source: From Publisher


When you look in a mirror, who do you see?

A boy? A girl?
A son? A daughter?
A runner? A dancer?

Whoever and whatever you see–
just put out your fist and give yourself an "I am" BAM!

This jumping, jazzy, joyful picture book by the award-winning team of Walter Dean and Christoper Myers celebrates every child, and every thing that child can be.

This is a fantastic picture book. The illustrations are vivid and the verse is moving and lyrical. I also love the message that you can be anything you put your mind to.

My favorite quote from the book is:


Isn't that amazing? I love the imagery and each illustration captures the verse beautifully. Walter Dean Myers can apparently do no wrong. I've been reading his books since I picked up Fallen Angels at the library, oh about 20 years ago. He's an amazing talent and his son is following in his footsteps.

If you're looking for a really moving and beautiful picture book, maybe as a Christmas gift, then I highly recommend you take a look at this one. It'll capture your heart and your mind.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another New Exciting Cover!!

This one might have been floating around out there already, but I just found it, so it's new to me. For those of you that don't know, I am a huge Disney theme park nerd. In fact, my sister and I were just talking about our Spring Break trip today. I love the Kingdom Keepers books, not just because of the Disney nerddom, but also because they are well-written and truly exciting page-turners. Here's the cover for # 3 in the series. I am so thrilled to see Spaceship Earth in the background. It's about time the kids got around to Epcot (which is my favorite park).
The book comes out in April, after my Spring trip, but it'll be a great way to get excited for next year.

In My Mailbox (38)

As always, In My Mailbox is brought to you by Kristi, AKA The Story Siren.

I only got two books in the mail this week. Oddly enough, although they came from two different sources, they are both by the same author.

Looking Like Me by Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers

Release Date: Available Now from EgmontUSA


When you look in a mirror, who do you see?

A boy? A girl?
A son? A daughter?
A runner? A dancer?

Whoever and whatever you see–
just put out your fist and give yourself an "I am" BAM!

This jumping, jazzy, joyful picture book by the award-winning team of Walter Dean and Christoper Myers celebrates every child, and every thing that child can be.

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers

Release Date: February 2, 2010 from Amistad


Instead of shutting out the world, can Reese turn his life around?

For fourteen-year-old Reese, it's hard to stay out of trouble when the code at the Progress Center is survival of the fittest. Can he get a second chance, even if he's locked up in juvie hall?

I also bought a few books. It was sort of a slow week with the holiday, but I managed to find something to buy.

Scarlett & Crimson Book 1: Darqstarz Rising by Allyson Black
Scream Street Book 1: Fang of the Vampire by Tommy Donbavand
Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis
There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Bell! by Lucille Colandro

These are all for younger readers. The last two are read alouds I'll be doing for Christmas at school.

That's it for me this week. I can't wait to see what everyone else picked up.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lovely New Book Cover!!

Check out the cover for the 2nd book in Kim Harrison's Madison Avery series. It looks amazing and I am really excited for this one. I think it comes out May 20th. I know the first book in the series didn't get all positive reviews, but I am a huge fan of Kim's books and am always looking forward to new ones.

Contest, Contest, Contest!!

I haven't had a contest in awhile, so I figured that its about time I got back into the contest game. Not to mention the holiday season is the very best time for giving.

Here's what I have for 1 lucky winner:

The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima (AUTOGRAPHED PB)


The covenant that was meant to keep the wizard wars at bay has been stolen, and Trinity must prepare for attack. Everyone is doing their part -- Seph is monitoring the Weirwalls; Jack and Ellen are training their ghostly army; even Anaweir Will and Fitch are setting booby traps around the town's perimeter. But to Jason Haley, it seems like everyone wants to keep him out of the action. He may not be the most powerful wizard in Trinity, but he's prepared to fight for his friends. When Jason finds a powerful talisman --a huge opal called the Dragonheart--buried in a cave, his role takes on new importance. The stone seems to sing to Jason's very soul -- showing him that he is meant for more than anyone guessed. Trinity's guardians take the stone away after they realize that it may be a weapon powerful enough to save them all. Without any significant power of his own, and now without the stone, what can Jason possibly do to help the people he cares about -- and to prove his mettle?

Madison Moss can feel the beating heart of the opal, too. The desire for it surges through her, drawing her to it. But Maddie has other things besides the Dragonheart on her mind. She has a secret. Ever since absorbing the magical blow that was meant to kill Seph, she's been leaking dark powers. Although Maddie herself is immune to magic, what would her friends think if they knew what kind of evil lay within her? Trinity's enemies are as enthusiastic about her powers as she is frightened. They think they can use her to get to the Dragonheart -- and they'll use anyone Maddie cares about to make her steal the stone for them.

Moral compasses spin out of control as a final battle storms through what was once a sanctuary for the gifted. With so much to lose, what will Jason and Maddie be willing to fight for -- and what will they sacrifice? Every man is for himself in this thrilling conclusion to the Heir trilogy.

Third in the series and did I mention it's autographed?!

Ruined by Paula Morris (ARC)


Rebecca couldn't feel more out of place in New Orleans, where she comes to spend the year while her dad is traveling. She's staying in a creepy old house with her aunt. And at the snooty prep school, the filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she's invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey seems to give Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he's got a hidden agenda. Then one night, in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to talk to Rebecca, and to show her the nooks and crannies of the city. There's just one catch: Lisette is a ghost.

A ghost with a deep, dark secret, and a serious score to settle.

As Rebecca learns more from her ghost friend -- and as she slowly learns to trust Anton Grey -- she also uncovers startling truths about her own history. Will Rebecca be able to right the wrongs of the past, or has everything been ruined beyond repair?

Immortal by Gillian Shields (ARC)


Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies, housed in a Gothic mansion on the bleak northern moors, is elite, expensive, and unwelcoming. When Evie Johnson is torn away from her home by the sea to become the newest scholarship student, she is more isolated than she could have dreamed. Strict teachers, snobbish students, and the oppressive atmosphere of Wyldcliffe leave Evie drowning in loneliness.

Evie's only lifeline is Sebastian, a rebellious, mocking, dangerously attractive young man she meets by chance. As Evie's feelings for Sebastian grow with each secret meeting, she starts to fear that he is hiding something about his past. And she is haunted by glimpses of a strange, ghostly girl—a girl who is so eerily like Evie, she could be a sister. Evie is slowly drawn into a tangled web of past and present that she cannot control. And as the extraordinary, elemental forces of Wyldcliffe rise up like the mighty sea, Evie is faced with an astounding truth about Sebastian, and her own incredible fate.

Gillian Shields's electrifying tale will dazzle readers with suspense, mysticism, and romance.

So, 3 books for 1 lucky winner.

Here's how to enter:

+1--Leaving your E-Mail
+5--For Following or Becoming a Follower
+5--For Following Me on Twitter @carriesyabook
+5--For Posting about my contest on your Blog

Contest Ends December 18th!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett Krosoczka

Release Date: Available Now from Knopf

Source: Personal Copy


Serving justice . . . and lunch!

Hector, Terrence, and Dee have always wondered about their school lunch lady. What does she do when she isn’t dishing out the daily special? Where does she live? Does she have a lot of cats at home? Little do they know, Lunch Lady doesn’t just serve sloppy joes—she serves justice! Whatever danger lies ahead, it’s no match for LUNCH LADY!

It's no secret that kids love graphic novels. It's an area of publishing that is just going to continue to grow and grow. With the success of series like Wimpy Kid and Babymouse, we are going to start to see more and more new graphic titles. Some of them will be good and some bad. This certainly falls on the good side.

It took me about 15 minutes to read this book and I loved every minute of it. The illustrations are vibrant using nothing more than black, gray, white, and yellow. The action jumps of the page and hooks you from page one. When the book starts you immediately get a taste of what the Lunch Lady does best and it only wets your appetite to find out more.

Krosoczka knows kids books. He's the author of some of my favorites including the picture books, Punk Farm and Baghead. His talent is on full display here. The book is chock full of humor and made me laugh out loud more than once. There's tons of school humor that will appeal to both kids and adults, too. Instead of making fun of lunch ladies, Krosoczka has made them heroes, which I love. If you are looking for a new graphic series to get kids hooked on reading then look no further than Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute. I'll be donating the copies I bought to my school library and I can't wait to hear what the kids think of them.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett

Release Date: Available Now from Simon & Schuster

Source: Personal Copy


Steve Brixton always wanted to be a detective...

until he found out he already WAS one.
It all starts here: The thrilling story of Steve Brixton's first case. Our hero has a national treasure to recover, a criminal mastermind to unmask, and a social studies report due Monday -- all while on the run from cops, thugs, and secret-agent librarians.

Since when can librarians rappel from helicopters? Does Steve have any brothers or sisters? If not, then why is this series called The Brixton Brothers? You will solve all these mysteries and many more by the time you finish The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity.

We think you'll agree: Steve Brixton's first adventure is his best adventure yet.

This is a MG book, and is completely genius. For anyone who has ever read and loved Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books, then this is the book for you. Steve's favorite books are the Bailey Brothers mysteries and he lives by their code. The book is full of references to The Bailey Brothers' Detective Handbook and Steve tries to follow their rules to the letter.

This book is wonderfully quirky and utterly hilarious. Steve and his best friend, or chum, Dana (who by the way hates being called chum), end up in all kinds of life threatening situations and get up to all kinds of crazy hi jinks. I love the character of Dana as he's the one who is constantly trying to bring Steve out of the clouds and back to reality.

You know what else this book has?! Totally ass-kicking secret-agent librarians. Yeah, you heard right...librarians. It made me even more proud to be in my current job.

Mac Barnett is a genius. I already knew this from his fabulous picture book Guess Again and his genius is only more solidified in my mind after reading the first (hopefully of many) Brixton Brothers book. Even if you aren't a middle grade fan, I think everyone can find something to love in this book.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

To everyone in the US of A, Happy Thanksgiving!! To everyone else in the world, Happy Thursday!! I forgot to blog yesterday. My sister and I were running family members to the doctor and then went to see Christmas Carol in 3D, which was a little creepy, but I liked it anyway. I'll most likely be back later tonight with a new review.

Enjoy your day!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (42)--Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony

Release Date: May 13, 2010 from Putnam Juvenile


The year is 2041, and for sixteen year old Molly McClure, her life now is pretty much the same as it’s always been. She was only six when The Collapse of ’31 happened, ending life as the world’s population had known it. For grown-ups everywhere, the changes in their daily routines since The Collapse are a constant source of anxiety and worry. Not to mention bitterness at what they feel they’ve been cheated out of; abundant food and goods, ease of travel and communication, and financial security.

In Molly’s opinion, adults spend way too much time talking about the good old days. Sporadic electricity, bicycles, horses, solar powered tractors, sewing, cooking and farm work are all Molly’s ever really known, so she doesn’t waste a lot of energy worrying about what things used to be like. Life after The Collapse is just normal for her. At least until she finds herself forced to leave the comfort of her home and small island in British Columbia to travel down to Oregon.

What starts out as a quick trip to the United States to convince her grandfather to come back to Canada and be the island’s doctor, turns into a rescue mission, a test of Molly’s strengths, ingenuity, and sheer determination. She faces an unknown world where people are hungry, desperate, and sometimes even ruthless. But she also meets many helpful people, makes new friends, and is tested in ways she couldn’t have imagined.

Will a farm girl like Molly survive in this upturned world? Will she be able to return with her grandpa in time for him to help her ailing mother? And just how much will she have to compromise to succeed in getting back to British Columbia with her grandparents?

Find out in RESTORING HARMONY by Joëlle Anthony, forthcoming from Putnam Books for Young Readers

This sounds AMAZING!!! Post-Apocalyptic fiction is one of my fave genres and this sounds right up my alley. I can't wait!! Unfortunately it doesn't come out until May? Torture!! I also adore the cover. It makes me think of some of Charles De Lint's book covers.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Border Crossing by Jessica Lee Anderson

Release Date: Available Now from Milkweed Editions

Source: From Publicist


Manz lives on the wrong side of the tracks in dusty Rockhill, Texas. Life is tough for everyone there--his hard-drinking mother, her truck-driving boyfriend, even his privileged friend Jed. Manz just wants to get out of the house and away from his unpredictable mother. But there's another problem--he's hounded by voices, and they're growing louder by the day.

When Manz takes a summer job at a cattle ranch, he meets Vanessa, who might be able to help. But Manz doesn't know if he can trust her. In fact, he doesn't know if he can trust anyone. He's seen Border Patrol rounding up illegals, and the voices say he might be next. When Manz begins to see signs of Operation Wetback--a brutal deportation scheme from the 1950s--he knows it's only a matter of time before they come for him.

As the summer heat thickens, Manz begins to seek guidance from the voices that mock and counsel him. Can he figure out which voice to listen to before it's too late?

Jessica Lee Anderson has written an incredibly powerful book that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. Manz is a heartbreaking character; he's one of those guys that just never seems to catch a break. When it comes to the relationship between Manz and his mother, Manz has to play the adult. And the one adult he can count on, Tom, his mother's boyfriend, is always out on the road. His best friend Jed has his own issues at home and is blind to Manz' struggles.

I felt sympathy for all of the characters in this book. His mother, although an alcoholic, has her own dark demons to deal with. I couldn't help but feel for her even as she was letting her son down.

I've read books about mental illness before, but it was truly fascinating to see it from the inside out. Anderson does a wonderful job of putting the reader into the mind of Manz. The writing helps the tension grow, so that the reader starts to feel just as paranoid as Manz. I couldn't help but look over my own shoulder to see if the Border Patrol was coming for me.

This was just a really great read and an engrossing look at an average teenager who is thrust into the very difficult world of Schizophrenia and is just trying to escape. Definitely a recommended read!!

Thanksgiving--How I Met Your Mother Style

This is my all-time favorite TV Thanksgiving moment. Enjoy and then tonight you can watch Slapsgiving 2009. YAY!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Author Signing--Jennifer Brown--The Hate List

Yesterday, I ventured a few short miles from my house to the Borders in Lee's Summit, MO to go see Jennifer Brown sign copies of The Hate List. I took my ARC and bought a lovely finished copy as well.

Jennifer was completely awesome and just about the nicest person I've met in quite awhile. I asked her about her next book and she said she has something coming out in Spring 2011. Needless to say, I totally can't wait. You know what else?! She reads my blog. I've been feeling all overwhelmed with my TBR list of review books. Last week I was actually considering taking a blogging break, but meeting Jennifer made me excited about blogging again, so thank you for that Jennifer.

She also gave me a signed bookmark and two "Agent of Change" bracelets which I will totally be rockin' at work tomorrow. We are starting a new bullying campaign, so I'm hoping to make all of my students "Agents of Change".

The Hate List is one of my favorite books of the year. It's a fantastic and powerful read that I think should be required reading in high schools across the country. If you want to read my entire review, you can find it here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

In My Mailbox (37)

As always, In My Mailbox is brought to you by Kristi, AKA The Story Siren. I've been a bit of a bad blogger lately. Work and school has kept me away and cut into my reading big time, but I am re-dedicating myself to blogging. I was actually contemplating taking a break, but a recent meeting with an author made me reconsider and decide to keep on truckin'. Therefore, this week, I am pledging to blog every day. We'll see how that goes. I only work two days this week, because of Thanksgiving break, so I plan to catch up on reading and try not to watch Criminal Minds all day.

Here's what I got this week:

For review:

Just Grace and the Snack Attack by Charise Mericle Harper

Release Date: December 14, 2009 from Houghton Mifflin Books for Children


After reading this new book about Just Grace you will know how to . . .
1. turn your favorite potato chips into a tasty chipwich.
2. draw and fold up your very own zine, which is a cool little book made from only one piece of paper.
3. look for and use the special powers of the wish chip.
This book will not help you know how to . . .
1. do fancy hairstyles for your cat.
2. make a flower garden in your room.
3. bake a four- or even five-layer cake.
But this book might make you feel a little bit hungry, and if it does, then you will know you are having a “snack attack” just like Grace!

Move over Judy Moody, Amber Brown and Clementine, there's a new spunky third grader on the block! Learn more about Just Grace at

I've been offered more books for younger readers lately and I'm thrilled about that. Although my heart will always be with YA, I'm excited to find great new authors to share with my students.

The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein by Libby Schmais

Release Date: December 8. 2009 from Delacorte Books for Young Readers


An adorable, completely original YA voice.

Lotus Lowenstein's life is merde. She dreams of moving to Paris and becoming an existentialist. Yet here she is trapped in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with a New-Agey mom, an out-of-work dad, and a chess champion brother who dreams of being a rock star. Merci à Dieu for Lotus’s best friend, Joni, who loves French culture enough to cofound their high school’s first French Club with Lotus. At the first meeting, the cutest boy in the world walks in. His name is Sean, and he too loves French culture and worships Jean-Paul Sartre.

At first, Lotus thinks Sean is the best thing to happen to her in years. He’s smart, cultured, and adorable. Unfortunately, though, Joni feels the same way. And having an existentialist view of love, Sean sees nothing wrong with enjoying both girls’ affections. Things come to a head when all three depart for Montreal with their teacher, Ms. G, on the French Club’s first official field trip. Will Sean choose Joni over Lotus? And will Lotus and Joni’s friendship ever recover?

Eye of the Crow by Shane Peacock

Release Date: Avaliable Now from Tundra Books


Sherlock Holmes, just thirteen, is a misfit. His highborn mother is the daughter of an aristocratic family, his father a poor Jew. Their marriage flouts tradition and makes them social pariahs in the London of the 1860s; and their son, Sherlock, bears the burden of their rebellion. Friendless, bullied at school, he belongs nowhere and has only his wits to help him make his way.

But what wits they are! His keen powers of observation are already apparent, though he is still a boy. He loves to amuse himself by constructing histories from the smallest detail for everyone he meets. Partly for fun, he focuses his attention on a sensational murder to see if he can solve it. But his game turns deadly serious when he finds himself the accused — and in London, they hang boys of thirteen.

Shane Peacock has created a boy who bears all the seeds of the character who has mesmerized millions: the relentless eye, the sense of justice, and the complex ego. The boy Sherlock Holmes is a fascinating character who is sure to become a fast favorite with young readers everywhere.


Betrayals by Lili St. Crow
The Hate List by Jennifer Brown (autographed)
The Seven Rays by Jessica Bendinger
Shadowland by Alyson Noel
Still Just Grace by Charise Mericle Harper
The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler
The Sea Trolls by Nancy Farmer

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Moon

Okay people, I'm heading off now to meet my friends for the midnight show of New Moon. I'll also be seeing it again tomorrow with other friends, so I realllly hope it's good. One look at this wolf pack tells me......I think I'll like it either way.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Candor by Pam Bachorz--1 ARC Tour

Release Date: Available Now from EgmontUSA

Source: 1 ARC Tour


In the model community of Candor, Florida, every teen wants to be like Oscar Banks. The son of the town's founder, Oscar earns straight As, is student-body president, and is in demand for every club and cause.
But Oscar has a secret. He knows that parents bring their teens to Candor to make them respectful, compliant–perfect–through subliminal Messages that carefully correct and control their behavior. And Oscar' s built a business sabotaging his father's scheme with Messages of his own, getting his clients out before they're turned. After all, who would ever suspect the perfect Oscar Banks?
Then he meets Nia, the girl he can't stand to see changed. Saving Nia means losing her forever. Keeping her in Candor, Oscar risks exposure . . . and more.

This book is amazing!! I love the idea of the story. I think it's completely likely that parents would choose to move into a community where there child's every thought is controlled. This is one of those stories that is way too close to coming true.

Oscar is a wonderful character, who is full of flaws. At times, I wasn't sure whether I was on his side or not, but it's his flaws that make him so believable and readable. Nia is fantastic as well, in fact, all of the characters really captured my imagination. Bachorz, while ensuring that every teens personality is eerily similar, still allowed enough of their former personalities to shine through. It was these glimpes of the real Sherman, Nia, and Mandi that made me like them so much.

What I like even more is that this book was inspired by time Bachorz spent living in Celebration, Florida AKA the town that Disney built. I love Disney probably much more than the average person, but the idea of Celebration is incredibly creepy. I think I would feel much the same walking its streets as I would walking the streets of Candor.

I cannot wait to see what Bachorz writes next. I would love to see a return to Candor, because I believe there's so much more story to tell. We haven't heard the last of Oscar and least I hope we haven't.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What I'm Doing Tonight....

I'm heading to downtown Kansas City tonight to the quite lovely Uptown Theatre to see one Mr. Rob Zombie on his Hellbilly Deluxe World Tour 2. Very excited, although already tired, so need to wake up. Something tells me the lovely Mr. Zombie will wake me up right away.

Hope everyone else is having a great night, too!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Monster Squad: The Slime That Would Not Die by Laura Dower

Release Date: Available Now from Grosset & Dunlap

Source: Personal Collection


My name is Jesse Ranger, and I am totally obsessed with monster movies. I love watching them, but I'd never imagined that I'd practically be in one. First, this creepy slime, straight out of my favorite monster flick, Slimo, started following me around. Then, Oswald Leery, the greatest monster movie director of all time, told me and three other kids from my school that all of the monsters from his movie were coming to life. And get this--he needs our help to stop them! The first monster we have to face is--you guessed it--Slimo! We want to help, but how are four kids supposed to out-slime a monster like that?

This is definitely a book for our younger readers, but it's a fantastic little read. I have to admit that I only picked it up, because the title Monster Squad reminded me of that '80s movie masterpiece. If you haven't seen it, you right now. If you have seen it, then this is not that Monster Squad, but it's equally as cute and entertaining.

Jesse and the rest of the squad have to go to work fast to capture the evil Slimo before it takes over the world, or at least their town. The book is full of quick and funny dialogue and gives you the feel of all those great old B-monster movies that I love so much. It's also full of adorable illustrations from Dave Schlafman.

Laura Dower is the author of the popular Madison Finn series and it's great to see her moving in a new direction. I'm always looking for new creepy, but not too creepy, reads for my elementary school and this is a series that I will definitely be adding to the collection.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Don't Know If You've Seen This, But It's Awesome!!

Waiting on Wednesday (41)--Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Release Date: December 22, 2009 from Bloomsbury USA Children's Books


Nimira is a foreign music-hall girl forced to dance for mere pennies. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing with a piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new and better life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets are beginning to stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumors swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry's involvement with a league of sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. Then Nimira discovers the spirit of a fairy gentleman named Erris is trapped inside the clockwork automaton, waiting for someone to break his curse. The two fall into a love that seems hopeless, and breaking the curse becomes a race against time, as not just their love, but the fate of the entire magical world may be in peril.

I think this sounds fantastic and I love the cover. "..fate of the entire magical world may be in peril." ?! Awesome!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Invisible Lines by Mary Amato

Release Date: November 24, 2009 from EgmontUSA


For Trevor Musgrove, life isn't always bright and cheerful. His family has just moved to Hedley Gardens, a tough housing project its residents call "Deadly Gardens." He goes to school with rich kids who have everything, while he has to work just to afford soccer cleats. It doesn't help that the best athlete in school, Xander Pierce, happens to have it out for him. Mistakenly enrolled in an advanced science class taught by an odd but engaging teacher, Trevor is thrown headfirst into the world of natural science. Through all this, he will learn that life can spring up in the darkest places--maybe even Deadly Gardens.

This was a great read. It's aimed more towards a middle grade audience, but I've been getting more and more into MG fiction lately, probably because of my job. I'm trying to constantly find new books that would appeal to my 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. They can be a tough audience and so many books don't really speak to their lives. Coming from a less affluent urban district, I think I have a lot of students who could relate to Trevor's plight.

First of all, he's the new kid in school. Secondly, he comes from the proverbial "wrong side of the tracks." Instead of living in the ritzy part of town where most of his classmates reside, Trevor lives in the housing project lovingly dubbed "Deadly Gardens." Poverty is Trevor's existence and at the Gardens he witnesses first hand some fellow students dealing with things even worse than wondering where your next meal will come from.

When Trevor is mistakenly put into Mr. Ferguson's accelerated science program, he finally feels like he belongs somewhere, while secretly hoping that no one finds out that he doesn't officially belong. Mr. Ferguson is obsessed with mushrooms and his love of fungus spreads to his students, especially to Trevor. I love the image of, as the above synopsis suggests, "that life can spring up in the darkest places." It's a wonderful idea that something truly special can come out of a very dark place. That's a message that I would love my students to get and a message that they really need.

Mary Amato's previous book, Naked Mole Rat Letters was nominated for Missouri's Mark Twain award. I really hope that this one makes the list next year. It is completely deserving and was a joy to read. Highly recommended.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

In My Mailbox (36)

So I skipped a week, because things have been a wee bit busy and I've been a wee bit lazy watching all 4 seasons of Criminal Minds. You see, I have this crush on Matthew Gray Gubler and it has taken over my life. Almost done with season 4 though, so crush is abated.

As for my mailbox, first things first, In My Mailbox is brought to you by Kristi, AKA The Story Siren.

For Review:

The Morganville Vampires: Glass Houses and The Dead Girl's Dance by Rachel Caine

Release Date: Available Now from Penguin


The first two novels in the New York Times bestselling Morganville Vampires series together for the first time in a new trade paperback edition.

Morganville is a small college town in the heart of Texas—not a place that exactly screams “hotbed of creatures of the night.” But college freshman Claire Danvers is about to discover why, in Morganville, you should never, ever stay out after dark…

Glass Houses
College freshman Claire Danvers moves off campus and into an old house in the small town of Morganville. Her new roommates have her back when the town’s deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood…

The Dead Girls’ Dance
Claire may have a great roommate and a new boyfriend, but when she’s invited to the Dead Girls’ Dance all hell breaks loose—literally. Because this time, the living and the dead are ready to tear up the night…

I'm looking forward to starting this one. I've heard many, many good things about the series, so I think it's about time I get around to it.

What I Wore to Save the World by Maryrose Wood

Release Date: December 1, 2009 from Berkley Jam


Third in the fabulous series that started with Why I Let My Hair Grow Out

Senior year's coming up fast and Morgan still has no clue about college, or a career-the whole rest of-her-life thing is basically a blank. Maybe it's because she spent her junior year obsessing about Colin, the hot Irish guy she fell for last summer (that was right around the same time she discovered she's a half- goddess from the days of Irish lore... you had to be there). She even saved Colin from a nasty enchantment, but he doesn't know that. Colin doesn't believe in magic, not even a little.

But then a mysterious message reunites her with Colin, who turns out to be caught up in the biggest faery-made disaster ever. We're talking the end of reality-not just reality TV. To save the world, she's going to have to tell Colin the truth about her half-goddess mojo. But if he doesn't believe in magic, how will he ever believe in her?

Haven't read this series either, but I bought the first one yesterday, so I plan to start it sometime soon.


The Brixton BrothersL The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett

I just finished this one and it was forthcoming.

Grace Secret by Charlaine Harris

That's it, although I really feel like I'm forgetting one or tow review books. If I think of them later I'll add them to next weeks installment.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cirque du Freak Winners!!!

Okay, I've been completely falling down on the job lately, but my new job is keeping me otherwise occupied. This week for instance, we are taking over 250 kids to the circus, most of our students. Some have to stay behind because of behavior, etc., but imagine....250+ elementary kids at the circus. I might be crazy, but I'm actually looking forward to it.

Anyway, back to business. The winners of my Cirque du Freak contest, which I should've announced, oh I don't know, like a week ago are:




I will be sending you both e-mails shortly so be on the lookout for them and get back to me as soon as possible.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Karma for Beginners by Jessica Blank

Release Date: Available Now from Hyperion!!


Fourteen-year-old Tessa has never had a normal life. Her mother, a frustrated hippie with awful taste in men, has seen to that. But when her mom pulls her out of school to live at an ashram in the Catskills, Tessa goes from being a freak among normal people to being an outcast among freaks. Freaks who worship an orange robe-wearing guru. And while her mom is buzzing with spiritual energy, and finding a little too much favor with the guru, all Tessa feels are weird vibes.

Unless she's with Colin, the gorgeous boy who fixes trucks for the ashram. The connection they share is the most spiritual thing Tessa has ever felt. But he's older-like illegally older-and Tessa's taking dangerous risks to spend time with him. Soon her life is blooming into a psychedelic web of secrets and lies and it's clear that something's about to give way. When it does, will she have anyone to hold on to? Will she even know herself?

Revelations abound in this mind-altering novel from the acclaimed author of Almost Home.

I've read some mixed reviews about this book, but I really liked it. I thought it was a compelling and thought-provoking read and once I started it, I couldn't put it down. Tessa is a wonderful character who is caught up in her mother's constant quest for something that will make her happy.

When she gets dragged to the ashram, Tessa feels completely lost and like an outsider, but once she meets Colin, she starts to feel like she has a place where she truly belongs. But just when Tessa starts to find happiness, things once again fall apart.

The setting of the ashram was fascinating to me, but creepy at the same time. The guru is a character that I won't soon forget. This book made me think of the book and movie Mermaids for some reason. Maybe it's the mother-daughter dynamic, but I couldn't help but reflect on that story while reading this one.

This was a great read. I picked it up when I was in a bit of a reading slump and it really brought me back around. It's got a lot of heart, is well-written, and it's full of memorable characters. What more could I ask for?!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Waiting on Wedneday (or rather Thursday) (40)--The Less-Dead by April Laurie

Release Date: January 12, 2010


Noah Nordstrom has been dissing the religious beliefs of his father, who hosts a popular Christian radio show and whom Noah accuses of spreading hate. When two local gay teens are murdered, Noah’s anti-evangelism intensifies—he’s convinced that the killer is a caller on his dad’s program.

Then Noah meets Will Reed, a cool guy. But when he learns that Will is gay, Noah gets a little weirded out. Especially since Will seems really into him. Noah gives Will the brush-off. Meanwhile, the killer is still at large . . . and soon Noah finds the next victim. It’s Will.

Racked with guilt, Noah decides to investigate. He knows the serial killer is targeting gay teens, but only those who live in foster homes, whose deaths are not that important to society; they are the less-dead. Noah, however, is determined to prove that someone cares. With the help of Will’s journal, which he pocketed at the scene of the crime and in which the killer has written clues, Noah closes in on an opponent more dangerous than he can guess.

Sounds pretty interesting and I love that there are so many great teen mysteries headed our way.

Medina Hill by Trilby Kent--Tour Stop

Welcome to this stop on the Medina Hill Tour!! Want to know more about Medina Hill, then look no further.

Release Date: October 13, 2009 from Tundra Books


It is 1935, and eleven-year-old Dominic Walker has stopped speaking. Home is London's grimy docklands, where life with an ailing mother, an unemployed father, and unanswered questions about the war that haunts his family lead him to retreat into a world of silence.

Everything changes when Uncle Roo invites Dominic and his little sister, Marlo, to spend the summer on the Cornish coast. There, in a boarding house populated by likeable eccentrics, the children discover a free-thinking, unstructured way of life unlike any they have known before. But the idyllic holiday is threatened when a village uprising against a band of Travelers tests Dominic's emerging friendship with a one-legged Gypsy girl. Armed only with a treasured copy of Incredible Adventures for Boys: Colonel Lawrence and the Revolt in the Desert, he decides to take a stand for justice and the victimized community--and in so doing, learns what it truly means to have a voice.

Trilby Kent peoples her story with a cast of unlikely and unforgettable heroes in this stunning debut novel. Media Hill brilliantly evokes a far-off time and place with surprising insight and modern relevance.

This is a fantastic read!! And I'm not just saying that because I'm a stop on the blog tour. I loved this book from start to finish. It's incredibly heart-warming and its filled with characters that I could've read about for ages. Dominic and Marlo are completely believable and lovable characters, and you really want everything to work out for them.

And the tenants of the boarding house are so unique, full of love, and wonderfully flawed that I really just wanted to pack up and move in with them. The events of this book are blended seamlessly with Dominic much-loved stories of Lawrence of Arabia. I love the idea that one little lost boy can find so much courage just from a favorite book. I can really relate to that and I think that's one reason why I loved this book so much.

Trilby Kent really does have a gift and I can't wait to read everything she writes in the future. She has a fresh, new voice that kept me hooked and wanting more.

If you'd like to follow the Medina Hill tour, here are the other stops for today:

BookWorming in the 21st Century
Must Read Faster
Everyday Reading
Ad Absurdum
Stop, Drop, and Read

And tomorrow you can find Trilby at these stops:

Write for a Reader
Bloody Bookaholic
A Patchwork of Books
Frenetic Reader

Monday, November 2, 2009


Okay, I'll be MIA for awhile this week. I have an event at school tomorrow night that is taking up quite a bit of my time. I shall return shortly as I have a stop on a blog tour coming up on Wednesday. See you then!!