Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis


Release Date: September 30, 2014
Publisher & ARC: Scholastic
ISBN:  9780545156646
Ages: 8-12

About the Author:
Christopher Paul Curtis is the award-winning author of The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963Bud Not BuddyMr. Chickee's Funny MoneyMr. Chickee’s Messy Mission, and Bucking the Sarge. His second novel, Bud, Not Buddy, is the first book ever to receive both the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author Award. Check out his website here.

Review:
 The Watsons Go to Birmingham was the debut novel that put Curtis on the map, and he has continued to satisfy readers with his poignant characters and heart-warming stories. In September 2014, Curtis released the companion novel to the Newbery honor book Elijah of Buxton. We return to Buxton with the dual stories of Benji Alston and Red Stockard in Ontario, Canada, an actual town established by slaves leaving America in 1849 as part of the underground railroad. Though their lives are intertwined, they don't actually share a story until later in the novel.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Loop by Karen Akins


Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher & ARC: St. Martins
ISBN: 9781250030986
Age: 13-18

About the Author:
Karen Akins lives in the MidSouth where she writes humorous, light young adult science fiction. When not writing or reading, she loves taking care of her son and hanging out with her husband. And watching Downton Abbey. Karen has been many things in her life: an archery instructor, drummer for the shortest-lived garage band in history, and a shockingly bad tic-tac-toe player. Loop is her first novel. No DeLoreans were harmed in the making of Loop. Visit her website here.




Review:
 I've always loved a good time-travel story, especially when it involved Marty McFly, and I can usually keep up with the logic to a point; after that, I just suspend my disbelief and enjoy the ride. Once I start moving into multiple versions of selves, I tend to stop trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. With Loop, Bree's comings and goings in the universe were never confusing, and Akins excels at a logical time-travel scenario with a fascinating love story. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper



Release Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher & ARC: Atheneum, Edelweiss
ISBN: 9781442494978
Ages: 9-13

About the Author:
Sharon Mills Draper is a professional educator and award winning writer. She was the 1997 National Teacher of the Year, a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, and is a New York Times bestselling author.  Check out her website here.

Review:
As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. today, let's stop for a minute and applaud the valiant writers, like Sharon Draper, who write with honesty and authenticity for children and young adults. I had the amazing opportunity to speak with Draper while I was a graduate student at Clemson University. She was real, straightforward, and humble. That's what I've always seen in her writing. From Copper Sun to The Jericho Trilogy, Draper knows what young readers want, and she delivers on every level. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Blog Tour: Audacity by Melanie Crowder



Release Date: January 8, 2015
Publisher & ARC: Philomel
ISBN: 9780399168994
Ages: 12-18


About the Author:

Melanie Crowder lives on the Colorado Front Range, where she is a writer and educator. She teaches English to non-native-English-speaking students. Melanie holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of the novels Audacity (Philomel/Penguin Books) and Parched (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Visit her website here



Review:

Often, our young girls grow up not knowing the unheard stories of courageous women who fought for equality and justice. Sometimes, it's not a matter of exposure but of knowledge. Melanie Crowder's Audacity gives young girls a new type of hero who doesn't exist on the pages of comic books or in movie theaters; instead, she could be right next door.

A novel in verse, Audacity immediately reminded me of Ellen Hopkins, which is a good thing as many fans of Hopkins will quickly become fans of Crowder because of the format. I read this book in about two hours for two reasons: the first being the format and thus its accessibility and the second, and most important, being Clara's story.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Jesus Jackson by James Ryan Daley


Release Date: October 1, 2014
Publisher & ARC: Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN: 9781929345069
Paperback: $8.42 (Amazon)
Ages: 12-18

About the Author:
(From Poisoned Pen Press) James Ryan Daley is a writer, editor, and digital designer. After earning an MFA in fiction at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2004, James has spent most of the years since then teaching writing to college students, creating websites about video games, and editing anthologies of fiction and political rhetoric. When he’s not glued to his computer, obsessively poring over pixels and pronouns, James can usually be found skiing the slopes of Vermont or sailing the harbors of Rhode Island. He lives in Newport, RI with his wife and two daughters. Visit Daley's website here.

Review:
We've all experienced that moment when we question our faith, whether it be in humanity, goodness, or God. Usually that moment occurs shortly after a tragedy when nothing makes sense, and we feel lost. It's not until someone, or something, comes along in the midst of our despair to lift us up that we realize our faith wasn't lost, just misplaced. Such is the case for 14-year-old Jonathan Stiles.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Courage of Cat Campbell by Natasha Lowe


Release Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
E-ARC: Edelweiss
ISBN: 9781481418706
$13.22
Ages: 8-12

About the Author: 
(From Lowe's website)If you are interested in learning a little bit more about me, here are some of the things that went into making me the sort of writer I am today. I was born and raised in London, England, where I spent a rich, fantasy filled childhood developing a love of good books. One of my favorites was The Little White Horse by Elisabeth Goudge which I vividly remember reading under my desk during math class. There are some wonderful descriptions of food in this book and I still want to eat sticky parkin and bread and honey every time I reread it! Visit her website here.

Review: 
Girls, we've all been there, haven't we? Wanting to do something so desperately, but our mothers don't approve? That's exactly what's bothering Cat Campbell. Though a late bloomer, Cat has inherited her mother's (the protagonist of The Power of Poppy Pendle) gene of witchcraft, something that she's longed for since she could attempt to mix a potion in her mom's bakery. Unfortunately, though expected, Cat's mom disapproves of Cat's magic.