Sunday, April 26, 2015

9 1/2 Narrow by Patricia Morrisroe

Release Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher & ARC: Penguin Random House
ISBN: 9781592409242
Ages: Adult, First Sections 14+

About the Author:

Patricia Morrisroe grew up in Andover, Massachusetts and graduated from Tufts University with a B.A. in English. After spending a year as a reporter and film critic at the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, she received an M.A. in Cinema Studies at NYU. As a contributing editor at New York magazine, she wrote over fifty features, many of them cover stories. Patricia’s work has also appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, Departures, Travel & Leisure, and the London Sunday Times Magazine. Read her full biography, and check out her website here


I am not a shoe person. I don't really like to shop for shoes, and I usually wear the new ones I buy for many years. In fact, I still have a pair of Nikes from high school (and that's been about thirteen years). I'm not particularly active, so I don't wear shoes out quickly. All of that being said, I wasn't sure that I would like a non-fiction book about shoes, but as I read through the first few chapters, I realized Patricia's story isn't necessarily about shoes or buying shoes but the stories that accompany that one special pair and the history behind certain types of shoes. I was immediately hooked. Most people who read this blog come for the YA reviews, and there's definitely that aspect here. 

The opening chapter, "White Mary Janes," has everything a young, or adult, reader would want: an endearing child who is both jealous and curious. Patricial is envious of the shoes that adorn the feet of the prettiest girl in school. To get her own pair, she would try begging, but it took the unfortunate death of a skunk to acquire them. Imagining Patricia's sneaky, manipulative, and tearful smile as she gets what she wants will definitely warm your heart.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Carol Weston Guest Post for Ava and Taco Cat

Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN: 9781402288739

About the Author:
From Weston's website: That's a tough one. I'm a grown-up girl, a mom-wife-daughter-sister-friend, a New York Upper West Sider, a guest on Today and Oprah, "the reigning advice columnist at GL magazine" (so says Newsweek), a novelist/author of 12 books who enjoys skiing and art museums, a Yalie who wrote for Seventeen at age 19, a speaker of French and a mumbler of Italian with an M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury, a guest at schools from Alaska to Florida (not on the same day), and hmmm, what else? My parents were writers, and my birthday is September 11th. Oh, and I've had 37 letters in The New York Times. (Who knew? The Times knew. They keep track!) 

Guest Post:

Who is Ava Wren?

Ava is a good kid who often gets herself in trouble. She's 11 in AVA AND TACO CAT (she was 10 in AVA AND PIP), and is desperate to have a cat. She and her sister Pip sneak into a rescue center and come up with a creative way to convince their parents that they should adopt a poor little injured orange kittycat. But things don't go well when Taco Cat joins the family.... 

It's fun that Ava herself wants to grow up and write children's books.

Yes, I like that the first book ends with Ava musing that she might want to write a book for kids someday. Are we reading a fifth grader's diary? Or are we reading the book that Author Ava aspires to write? It's like an inside joke with the reader.

Do you have advice for young writers?

I was a young writer myself--my first byline was in Seventeen when I was 19. Since then I've taught writing at Middlebury College and at the New York Society Library in Manhattan, where I live. I gave my best tips to my character Jerry Valentino, and I stand by them. They're on page 150:

1.     Write from the heart: write about what you care about.
2.     Use your head: think about beginning, middle, and end.
3.     Show, don’t just tell: it’s better to reveal than to explain.
4.     Use your senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, touch.
5.     Provide details: paint pictures with words.  
6.     Read your work aloud: listen to the rhythm and music of words.

What's with all the palindromes?

The Wrens are all word nerds -- in the best way. And their names are all the same backward and forward: AVA, PIP, ANNA, BOB. (SIS, MOM, DAD) and even TACO CAT. My parents were both writers and editors, so word play is in the blood. We didn't go around saying "A TOYOTA'S A TOYOTA!" but we did talk about words at dinner. My mom was the garden editor of House & Garden Magazine. And my dad worked for television and did not let me get away with peppering my speech with "you know" and "like." I was thrilled when The New York Times gave AVA AND PIP a two-column review and called it "a love letter to language."  Good books need strong characters and twisty plots but the words themselves count too. Maybe that's why I do so many revisions. So many many many revisions!

Don't Stay Up Late by R.L. Stine

Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher & ARC: St. Martins
ISBN: 9781250051622
Ages: 10+

About the Author:

Born in 1943, R.L. Stine started out writing jokes and funny stories. He moved to New York City in the mid-1960s, after graduating from The Ohio State University. In 1986, Stine published Blind Date, his first horror novel for young adults. He launched his popular Fear Street book series three years later. Beginning in 1992, Stine found international acclaim writing the Goosebumpsseries, which spurred the creation of additional series and nearly 200 books. Check out his awesomely creepy website here


It's been twenty years since I started reading the Fear Street series, and even though I'm not thirteen anymore, the Fear Street books are still my favorite horror series. I remember going to my town's library, and though the selection was quite limited, they always carried the Fear Street series. I would check out five at time because I knew once I settled in to one book, I would finish it in an hour or two. The only ones my mom would never let me check out were the ones about Christmas. I guess the idea of an even Santa was just not one she wanted her only daughter exposed to. To this day, I still haven't read those. Even though today's generation is so different from the 90s (take the movie Unfriended, for example), R.L. Stine has not changed his style, and the Fear Street series is still as horrifying as ever. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow

From Celebrated Children’s Author Charlotte Zolotow Comes a Seasonal Poetry Collection, Gathered Together
for the First Time!

“Few writers for small children so empathize with them as does Charlotte Zolotow.” — Zena Sutherland, children’s literature reviewer and scholar

“Ms. Zolotow’s own picture books — she wrote more than 70 — were cleareyed explorations of the interior landscape of childhood by one who had obviously not forgotten what it felt like to dwell there.” – Margalit Fox, The New York Times

About the Author:

Charlotte Zolotow (1915-2013) was a distinguished author and editor of children’s books, and one of the most important contributors to children’s literature. During the course of her career she wrote more than 70 books, many of which are picture-book classics, including the Caldecott Honor medalistMr.Rabbit and the Lovely Present.

Now, for the very first time, and published on the occasion of her 100th birthday, Zolotow’s most beloved seasonal poetry will be available in one collection—Changes:  A Child’s First Poetry Collection (9781492601685; April; $16.99; Hardcover; Poetry; Ages 3-6).

Illustrator Tiphanie Beeke’s resplendent watercolors work beautifully with Zolotow’s poems, which capture the beauty of nature at different times of the year. Children will follow along as the seasons change with each poem. There is spring with the business of nest-building, summer with its abundance of roses, fall with the tangy perfume of chrysanthemums, and winter with the frozen pond surrounded by whiteness.

Poetry and nature lovers of all ages will delight in Zolotow’s classic poems and Beeke’s lovely illustrations, making Changes a perfect poetry collection for every child.

Sample Poem:

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Crash by Jerry Spinelli

Release Date: (Re-Release) April 7, 2015
Publisher & ARC: Random House
ISBN: 9780553536645
Ages: 12+

About the Author:

See Spinelli's website for full biography.


I have taught Spinelli's Stargirl for the past few years, so I'm already a big fan. His straightforward charisma with his characters and plot has been a refreshing look into the lives of young people and the issues that plague them. While Crash first appeared in 1996, I didn't come across the book until this year, and I'm so glad I did. Here is a book that explores the life of a successful football player and the ins and outs of acting like one towards those who are not athletically talented. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess Blog Tour

Guest Post from Heath McKenzie:

Smoked Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

Once upon a time the world burned.
Until a girl and her dragon smothered the flame.
But the spark that ignited the apocalypse never went out.
And The Scorch is about to begin…

When Team Dragon rescues Emmy from the government lab, they think the future is finally safe. But they soon discover that Emmy has a secret--a secret so dangerous it could trigger the very apocalypse Connor and Caleb were sent back in time to prevent.

As a dragon hunter, Connor has committed his life to saving the world. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do to complete his mission… even if it meant betraying his brother and losing Trinity’s heart. Even if it meant doing the unthinkable. 

But a desperate choice meant to prevent The Scorch, may become the spark that sets the world aflame once more.

About the Author:

Mari Mancusi got her start in the TV industry where she won two Emmys for her work as a producer. Since then, Mari has become widely recognized for her work as a novelist and, to date, her books have received the following awards: a Kids Indie Next Pick, an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, a YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults, and a nomination for the National Readers Choice Award.


Head over to my Twitter page to locate the following tweet. Once you find it, retweet for a chance to win!

COVER REVEAL: SMOKED, the fiery conclusion to @marimancusi’s #ScorchedSeries, is out this September! RT to #win an ARC #LightTheSpark

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Before My Eyes by Caroline Bock

Author: Caroline Bock
Release: February 10, 2015
Publisher & ARC: St. Martin's Griffin
Ages: 14+

About the Author: 

"I recently moved to Maryland after living my entire life in New York, including many years in Long Island, where my debut novel, LIE, and my new novel, BEFORE MY EYES, are set. Prior to focusing on my writing, I led the marketing and public relations departments at Bravo, IFC cable networks and IFC Films. Notably, I was part of the executive team that launched IFC. I am a graduate of Syracuse University where I had the distinct honor of studying creative writing with Raymond Carver and poetry with Tess Gallagher and Jack Gilbert. In 2011, I received my MFA in Fiction with honors from The City College of New York. Going back to the beginning: I was born in the Bronx, and brought up in New Rochelle, New York by a remarkable father who raised four children alone after my mother suffered a stroke when I was four-and-a-half years old. I've always loved to read more than anything, and that's how it all started."


From the beginning, the outcome of this novel is set, but that's not what is most important. Seeing a sneak peak into the minds of the three main characters, the outcome becomes a backdrop for the unveiling of the lives of three young people: Claire, Max, and Barkley.

Monday, April 6, 2015

ICYMI: February 3, 2015 Reviews in Haiku

(I'm not sure if you guys like these, but they sure are fun to do!)

Author: Carl Deuker
Release: February 3, 2015
Publisher & ARC: HMH
Ages: 12+

Basketball drama.
Explores sexual assault.
Last shot for Jonas.

Author: Elana K. Arnold
Release: February 3, 2015
Publisher & ARC: HMH
Ages: 12+

Sarah's tragic death.
Iris searches for her ghost.
Grief comes full circle.

Author: Scott Blagden
Release: February 3, 2015
Publisher & ARC: HMH
Ages: 14+

Cricket's sad, hard life.
Pop culture references are cool.
Charming first person.

Author: Jane Casey
Release: February 3, 2015
Publisher & ARC: St. Martin's Griffin
Ages: 12+

First in new series.
Too much plot to remember.
Detective story.

Author: M. Evonne Dobson
Release: February 3, 2015
Publisher & ARC: Poisoned Pencil
Ages: 12+

First in Kami files.
Another detective plot.
Also horse riding.

Author: Toby Forward
Release: February 3, 2015
Publisher & ARC: Bloomsbury
Ages: 12+

Cool wizard series.
Tamrin's expulsion from school.
Rich prose is enough.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Release Date: December 23, 2014 (Paperback)
Publisher:  Random House
ISBN: 9780375866562
Ages: 12+

About the Author:

Rachel was born in Kentucky, but has lived a variety of places including Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She has a BA in Comparative Literature, although she insists it should have been a BS because her undergraduate thesis was called “Paradox and Parody in Don Quixote and the satires of Lucian.” She eschewed graduate school in favour of drawing comic books. She now lives in Vancouver, BC, with her family, their whippet, and a talking frog and salamander (who fight zombies)(really. There are a lot of zombies in the Pacific Northwest).


Being a high school English teacher and a YA book reviewer, I'm always on the lookout for the next book I can teach in my classroom, and believe me, there is a long checklist of what a book must have to be worthy of my fastidious students. Since The Hunger Games, I've been hard pressed to find a book that excites them. Divergent was a success, but the sequels fell flat. I'm not sure what took me so long to find Seraphina, but I am so very glad I did, and I cannot wait to share with my students and colleagues Seraphina's adventures here and in the sequel Shadow Scale (review coming soon). 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Truth About Us Guest Post by Janet Gurtler

Book Info:

Flynn’s from the wrong side of the tracks, but he may be just right for Jess…
The truth is that Jess knows she’s screwed up. She’s made mistakes, even betrayed her best friend, and now she’s paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
The truth is that she wishes she was the carefree party girl everyone thinks she is. She pretends it’s all fine. That her “perfect” family is fine. But it’s not. And no one notices the lie…until she meets Flynn. He’s the only one who really sees her. The only one who really listens.

The truth is that Jess is falling apart, and no one seems to care. But Flynn is the definition of “the wrong side of the tracks.” When Jess’s parents look at him, they only see their differences, not how much she and Flynn need each other. They don’t get that the person who shouldn’t fit into your world might just be the one who makes you feel like you belong.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Izzy and Oscar Blog Tour with Guest Post!

Meet the Author & Illustrator:

Allison Estes has written more than a dozen books. Izzy & Oscar is her first picture book, and was really different and fun to write! Some of her other books are The Short Stirrup Club series (ten titles) for middle-grade readers, four titles in the Thoroughbred series (fun because she got to start over in #24 with all new characters), and Paw & Order: Dramatic Investigations by an Animal Cop on the Beat, which is an adult book but fine for animal lovers of all ages and full of happy endings.
After 29 years in New York City, Allison recently moved back to her home town, Oxford, Mississippi. She lives in the country with her son, two grandparents, two dogs, and two horses. Right now, when she isn’t busy cooking supper, taking care of dogs and horses, teaching writing workshops and driving to soccer, she is working on another picture book, another adult book, and more happy endings.
Tracy Dockray grew up on the plains of West Texas with a love of books and innumerable pets. She moved to New York where she studied fine art and acquired several old motorcycles.  Her career veered from sculpture to puppet making to murals and finally to children’s books. She is ecstatic to have illustrated 30 books including two that she wrote herself.
Tracy now lives in a creaky, cavernous brownstone in Greenwich Village, with a hairless cat, 2 fuzzy dogs, two children and a very tolerant husband.  She is thrilled to have been able to illustrate Mrs. Cleary’s Ramona series and The Mouse and the Motorcycle series since she has a soft spot for them both.  Although Tracy studied Fine Arts in school, she has come to the happy conclusion that drawing pictures for children’s books is the finest art she knows.
Visit Tracy's website here and her Facebook page here.

Guest Post:
What do you consider when drawing a girl character for young readers?
When illustrating any character, I approach each story with an open mind as to how the characters should appear.  The story itself is what inspires me with its images.  I do usually give brown hair to characters that I illustrate, that way more readers can identify. Though I do  have a blonde girl in my most recent book, “A Scare In My Hair”.  My daughter, who is blonde, said it looked like her.  I guess she was right, we had recently gone through a horrible lice experience and that is the theme of the story.  I reckon, she wasn’t too far off thinking it was her.  Not something my daughter wanted to be reminded of every time she saw that book. Eeks, what an experience dealing with all that was.  Ugg! Anyway, back to the question of characters and girl characters in particular.
I always want my female protagonist to have a strong personality and look like she isn’t afraid to be herself.  Izzy was super fun to create.  That girl wasn’t afraid of much, except her friends finding out she couldn’t swim. I like that she was the leader of her gang and wasn’t afraid to jump right in to save one of them.  But, however my girls are drawn, and whatever they wear, I want them to feel unafraid to be themselves.  AND isn’t that what makes any girl the most appealing?
Macintosh HD:Users:tracydockray:Desktop:Library:Preferences:Adobe Photoshop CS2 Settings:WorkSpaces:Izzy finish flat.jpgLaCie:photos:Ramona with flowers.jpg

South Carolina Stop: The Wrong Side of Right Campaign Trail (Author Interview & Giveaway)

From Goodreads: 
"Fans of Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick will enjoy this smart debut young adult novel, equal parts My Life Next Door and The Princess Diaries—plus a dash of Aaron Sorkin.

Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?

Set against a backdrop of politics, family, and first love, this is a story of personal responsibility, complicated romance, and trying to diswho you are even as everyone tells you who you should be."

Welcome to South Carolina! Home of Myrtle Beach and the Clemson Tigers! I am so happy to host Jenn Marie Thorne for an interview and giveaway on her tour stop for The Wrong Side of Right. Since South Carolina is Thorne's choice of setting for her novel, I'm even more excited, though she could have had Kate's uncle wear a Tigers shirt instead of a Gamecocks :). Hit the jump for the interview, trailer, and giveaway!