Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews by Kathleen Benson & Benny Andrews

Release Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher & ARC: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 9780544104877
Hardcover: $12.38
Ages: 4-8

About the Author:
Kathleen Benson is the author of several picture books, many of which she co-authored with her late husband, Jim Haskins, including John Lewis in the Lead, which won the NCSS Carter G. Woodson Award for the most distinguished social science book for young readers that depicts ethnicity in the United States. Kathy is currently a Project Director at the Museum of the City of New York. She lives in Manhattan. 

Many people may not be familiar with the art of Benny Andrews before reading Benson's book; I was one of those. How I feel like I've lost so much time not knowing his artwork, yet I feel fortunate now to have been exposed to it. 

Benny Andrews was born in Plainview, Georgia in 1930, and while some of his greatest artwork came from the time he learned to draw at three years old to his early adulthood, he is perhaps most recently recognized from his time spent in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. For many children, Katrina meant leaving home and learning in a new school, but Andrews taught them how to express what they saw and felt, how to take the tragedy that Katrina brought and turn it into something beautiful. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood From America's Presidents by David Stabler

Release Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher and ARC: Quirk Books
Hardcover: $11.68 (Amazon, B&N)
Ages: 9-12

About the Author:
David Stableris the kid-friendly alter ego of Robert Schnakenberg, the author of several books of pop history including Secret Lives of Great Authors, Secret Lives of the Supreme Court, and Distory: A Treasury of Historical Insults.Visit the websitehere.
We all have our opinions of the President of the United States based on our own set of values. With each inauguration, Americans are hopeful that the new President will change the United States for the better, progressing in education, economics, government, and technology. What we don't get to see as citizens, unless we do our own research, is the back story of each of these men (perhaps one day a woman?). What was it like to be a kid, not knowing that one day he will be President, not knowing that one day he will change the world for the better, or sometimes the worse.David Stabler and illustrator Doogie Horner give kids a glimpse into the life of a kid president.

(Review) Influenster's Frosty Vox Box

Influenster's Frosty Vox Box is amazing! There are so many great products that I was almost overwhelmed when I opened it. (I get a little excited when I receive free products to review). I can honestly say that there's not one product in the box that I would say not to buy.

No7 Protect and Perfect ADVANCED Sachet: Though a small sample (the product takes two weeks to see results), after one use, my skin was softer.

NYC Expert Last Lip Color in Sugar Plum: Fruity, pleasant smell and glossy color. Stays on through a shower.

Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Decaf Green Tea: Pepperminty green tea that's soothing and smooth.

EcoTools Hair Brush: Defrizzes hair and leaves hair smooth and shiny.

Rimmel Gently Eye Make Up Remover and Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliner: Make Up Remover is gentle and completely removes waterproof eye makeup. Scadaleyes eyeliner glides on and stays all day.

McCormick Gourmet Thyme: Perfect for chicken, pork, steak,and any vegetable, this herb is versatile and savory.

Fruit Vines Bites: If you like Twizzlers, you will love fruit vines. Just as sweet and tasty, low-fat, and perfect for sneaking into the movies.

(Photo Op) EcoTools Hairbrush

This EcoTools hairbrush is perfect for smoothing frizzy hair or pumping up the volume in a ponytail.

(Taste Test) Celestial Seasonings

I am a tea drinker,  not coffee, and Celestial Seasonings has always been my favorite tea brand because of the variety in flavors. I always start looking for their holiday teas after Thanksgiving, and I've got to say that this is a new favorite that I will look for every year. Candy Cane Lane is perfect for me because it's peppermint taste soothes my sinuses. The green tea properties are definitely a healthy part of my daily routine, and the decaffeinated tea ensures I'm not jittery. Soothing for any day!

*I received this product for free to review.

(Make Up Review) Rimmel

No matter how hard we try, removing eye make up is one of the hardest parts of cleaning our faces before we go to bed. You can't scrub too hard because the tender skin around your eyes will easily become aggravated. Enter Rimmel's Gently Eye Make Up Remover, which is exactly what it says, gentle. In just a few seconds, you can remove as much eye make up as you thought you needed that morning. 

I love eye liner because it makes your eyes pop, no matter what color they are. Rimmel's Scadaleyes eyeliner glides on so smoothly and effortlessly that you're done in less than ten seconds. It won't smudge (unless you want it to), and it stays on all day. 

*I received both of these products for free to test.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Random House Children's Books Blog Tour: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Release Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher and ARC: Random House Children's
Hardcover: $13.49 (Amazon, B&N)
Ages: 14+

About the Author:
(From Jennifer's website)By the time I was ten, I had already written numerous songs, a poem for Parker Stevenson ("If there were a Miss America for men, You would surely win"), two autobiographies (All About Me My Life in Indiana: I Will Never Be Happy Again), a Christmas story, several picture books (which I illustrated myself) featuring the Doodle Bugs from Outer Space, a play about Laura Ingalls Wilder's sister entitledBlindness Strikes Mary, a series of prison mysteries, a collection of short stories featuring me as the main character (an internationally famous rock star detective), and a partially finished novel about Vietnam. I was also an excellent speller from a very early age.
In 2000, I started writing full-time, and I haven't stopped... I've written eight books, and when I'm not working on the ninth, I'm contributing to my web magazine,Germ, thinking up new books, and dabbling in TV. I am always writing.Visit her websitehere.
Okay, Christmas is over, so it's time to get back to writing, and I can think of no other book to review than Jennifer Niven's All the Bright Places. Whether you're a teen right now or an adult, we've all experienced the rich kid and the freak, the pretty girl and the nerd, the haves and the have-nots. For some, you've been on one side or the other; for others, you've watched it play out like a soap opera in the halls of your high school. For Finch and Violet, they are living it. "Is today a good day to die?" Such an opening to a book guarantees it's going to be an enthralling tale, and so it goes with Niven's novel. Finch, Theodore Finch that is, begins by explaining that he constantly thinks about death and how it would be best to die. And he's thinking about this from the roof of his high school. Leaning over the edge, six stories in the air, Finch is wondering if jumping would be the best way, then suddenly he notices that he's not on the roof alone. Violet is the type of girl that has a "following." She's a cheerleader, she's pretty, she's popular, but there's more to her that meets the eye (I know, cliche, but it works here). The year before Violet is deciding her fate on the rooftop, she lost her sister Eleanor in a car accident that involved her parents. Since her sister's death, Violet has stopped writing for the beauty website she and her sister created, and she has to talk to her guidance counselor on a regular basis. How imperfectly perfect that these two should meet so serendipitously. From the encounter on the rooftop, Violet and Finch go on a journey (literally because of a school project) to discover what each other has lying underneath the surface of suicide statistics and awkward withdrawal.What follows is a tragically romantic dual narrative of Finch struggling with his own suicidal tendencies, and ironically attempting to convince Violet that there's more to life than living in the past. With an epigraph from Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, Nivens chronicles the broken and the broken-hearted.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Read the First Twelve Chapters of Cori McCarthy's Breaking Sky

Release Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN 9781492601418

Bookshout Code:

In this high-flying, adrenaline-fueled thriller, America’s best hope is the elite teen fighter pilots of the United Star Academy.
“The author's storytelling is incredibly cinematic, equally adept at capturing extended flight sequences and Chase's interpersonal struggles. Emotions run high toward the novel's end, and the author isn't afraid to play a bit rough, making this feel less like a novel capitalizing on current trends and more like a great story being told in a very cool way. Smart, exciting, confident—and quite possibly the next Big Thing.” – Kirkus Reviews
Fly to the last drop of fuel. Fight to the last drop of blood.
Showoff. Reckless. Maverick. Chase Harcourt, call sign “Nyx”, isn’t one to play it safe. In the year 2048, America is locked in a cold war – and the country’s best hope is the elite teen fighter pilots of the United Star Academy. Chase is one of only two daredevil pilots chosen to fly an experimental “Streaker” jet. But few know the pain and loneliness of her past. All anyone cares about is that Chase aces the upcoming Streaker trials, proving the prototype jet can knock the enemy out of the sky.
But as the world tilts toward war, Chase cracks open a military secret. There’s a third Streaker, whose young hotshot pilot, Tristan, can match her on the ground and in the clouds. And Chase doesn’t play well with others. But to save her country, she may just have to put her life in the hands of the competition.
Cori McCarthy’s taut, romantic, action adventure will shoot your pulse straight into overdrive with her brilliantly imagined and frighteningly possible future.

A Violin for Elva by Mary Lyn Ray, Illustrated by Tricia Tusa

Release Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher and ARC: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 9780152254834
Hardcover: $16.99 (Amazon, B&N)
Ages: 4-8

About the Author:
MARY LYN RAY has written many acclaimed books for children, including New York Times best-seller Stars, illustrated by Marla Frazee; Pumpkins, illustrated by Barry Root; and Red Rubber Boot Day and Mud, both illustrated by Lauren Stringer. She lives in South Danbury, New Hampshire . Visit her website here

Each of us has our own ambitions when we are young, and the entire world seems to be in front of us. Some, like me, want to be teachers, some want to be doctors, some want to travel the world, and some, like Elva, want to play the violin. Once we have our dream determined, we look to our parents for approval. This is where Elva's dream ends, but only for a while.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

For Real by Alison Cherry

Release Date: December 9, 2014
Publisher and ARC/eARC: Random House Children's
ISBN: 9780385742955
Hardcover: $13.22 (Amazon, B&N)
Ages: 12-17

About the Author:
Alison grew up in Evanston, IL. She is a professional photographer and spent many years working as a lighting designer for theater, opera, and dance. Now she lives in Brooklyn and writes young adult novels full time. She is represented by the lovely and amazing Holly Root of Waxman Leavell. Visit her website here
For those readers with an older sister, this book will definitely hit home. Eighteen year old Claire looks up to her big sister Miranda as much as any little sister would. And such a devoted sister would also go to great lengths to protect her sister, especially in the case of heartbreak.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mythmaker: The Life of J.R.R. Tolkien, Creator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by Anne E. Neimark

Release Date: September 28, 2014

Publisher and ARC: Hougton Mifflin
ISBN: 9780544023246

With the success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in theaters, many non-readers came to know Frodo Baggins as the hobbit with the eccentric uncle Bilbo Baggins. Wanting to know Bilbo's backstory, either through the new Hobbit trilogy or J.R.R. Tolkien's novel, those same non-readers suddenly became readers. For fans of the novel from the beginning, The Hobbit holds a special place in the hearts of many new, young readers as well as those who grew up with the novel and are now enjoying it on film (well, maybe, but that's a review for my husband Brett Gallman). 

In order to fully understand the power of Tolkien's novels, one must understand the man himself. Anne E. Neimark steps forward with an accessible biography of the man who brought hobbits, shires, elves, and orcs to life. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rebels by Accident by Patricia Dunn (Sourcebooks Virtual Tour)

Release Date: December 2, 2014
Publisher and eARC: Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN: 9781492601388
Trade Paper/$9.99 U.S.
Ages: 12+

About the Author:

Patricia Dunn’s writing has appeared in, Christian Science Monitor, Village Voice, The Nation, LA Weekly, and others.
With an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College, where she also teaches, the Bronx- raised rebel and former resident of Cairo is now settled in Connecticut, with her husband, teenage son, and toddler dog. Visit her website here
Journalist Patricia Dunn boldly steps her foot in the YA waters with her debut novel, Rebels by Accident. Fifteen year old Mariam is an Egyptian American living in a post-9/11 world where it's already tough to be a teenager, much less one who physically resembles what many stereotypically consider a terrorist. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Magnolia by Kristi Cook

Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher & ARC: Simon Pulse

From Goodreads: "In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over."

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Pirate's Night Before Christmas by Philip Yates, Illustrated by Sebastia Serra

Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher and ARC: Sterling Children's Books

Well, shiver me timbers! Philip Yates and Sebastia Serra are bringing Christmas to the pirate's ship. "Twas the night before Christmas aboard the Black Sark. Not a creature was stirrin', not even a shark! This adventurous twist on the classic, complete with pirate glossary, is perfect for the holidays!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Great Reindeer Rebellion by Lisa Trumbauer and Jannie Ho

Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher and ARC: Sterling Children's Books

"Twas the week before Christmas, and somewhere up north,
dear Santa was frantic-he paced back and forth.
He had just heard some news that he sure didn't like:
it seemed that the reindeer were going on STRIKE!"

For many families, reading The Night Before Christmas is a Christmas tradition, one that helps to put many children to bed early on Christmas Eve! The anticipation of Santa Claus coming down the chimney to deliver presents is enough for any child (and child at heart) to have a sleepless, Christmas Eve night, but what if Santa's reindeer went on strike? Who would help Santa deliver the presents?