Couch Potato

28 03 2015

Couch Potato

One cat, my couch potato friend, Tank, who sits with me as I read all the books. Maybe I’ll post his reviews, too! Of course, that would mean I would have to get back to blogging. It’s in the plan, but the plan is behind schedule due to a bout with lots of antibiotics.  I’m fine but I’m spending a lot of couch time watching TV instead of reading.

Here’s a taste:

My favorite book this year is The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  I would have never found this on my own, but reviews pointed me in the right direction. Ada is such a complex character, in a lovely story about what is means to love and be loved.


Alienated: A Book Review

9 02 2014

Last weekend, I asked my boyfriend to pick a book for me to read off the always towering to-read pile.  Being a scientist of sorts, he selected a book about aliens. I have always read science fiction, from Robert Heinlein to Michael Crichton to the million dystopian novel that have been published in the YA market in the past few years. But I did not get the kind of sci-fi novel I was looking for in Alienated by Melissa Landers.

Let’s recap: Cara is a straight-A student, active on the debate team, very ambitious, future journalist.  Because of this, she is rewarded by being given an opportunity to be the first American to host a L’eihr exchange student.  She is not thrilled, but it comes with a scholarship. Plus, her mother was saved by L’eihr technology that cured her mother’s cancer so she already feels like she owes this alien society.

Once the L’eihr get to earth, tension explodes.  A group calling themselves HALO protests having the aliens on earth.  Mostly, the book follows Cara but every once in awhile, we get to follow Aelyx, Cara’s alien exchange student, so we see how he feels on this foreign planet.

The best part of this book is Cara’s blog, which she starts to talk about Aelyx and the L’eihrs.  They are being interviewed constantly by traditional news media, as you might expect, but this blog gives Cara a platform–and a leg up for her future career.  As a writing device, we also get a way to learn about lots of L’eihr technology and tradition, and a way to see Cara as a person with a skill, not just an angsty teenager, struggling because her friends have abandoned her.  There is a lot about tolerance and intolerance in this book.  It was a little more heavy-handed than I would have liked but it does evoke the Tea Party and other current “fringe” groups.

The hardest part of this book for me was the romantic tension between Cara and Aelyx.  It was ooey, gooey and everywhere.  Of course the alien is hot! What kind of a book would this be if the alien was ugly?  All the girls want to be with Aelyx, especially if it’s forbidden–although the idea that his spit is acidic turns them off (it isn’t, Cara makes that up to keep him all to herself).  And Aelyx embraces his human emotions by having feelings for Cara.  Oh, it made me crazy to read all those pages of tension between Aelyx and Cara! Angsty teen romance that includes the supernatural or paranormal is not my usual cup of tea and that was very apparent in this book–which only leads me to believe that it is a great romance title!

Recommend to: fans of Twilight

Galley copy of Alienated by Melissa Landers provided by NetGalley

SLJ BotB 2014: The Contenders

5 02 2014

It’s my favorite time of year!  That time when great books are read by authors and then have to face off in School Library Journal’s Battle of the (Kids’) Books!  The list of contenders always inspires me to read some books I’ve been meaning to get to.  And then you get to read hilarious, touching and sometimes totally absurd posts by the authors who are lucky enough to judge this competition.  Really, it doesn’t get any better for bookworms than this.  (For bookworms who prefer adult books, I recommend the Tournament of Books. Same idea, different audience.)

It’s always good to see great books from the past year that I’ve actually read on the list.  Books I’ve read in bold:


THE ANIMAL BOOK by Steve Jenkins


A CORNER OF WHITE by Jaclyn Moriarty

DOLL BONES by Holly Black

ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell

FAR FAR AWAY by Tom McNeal

FLORA & ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo

HOKEY POKEY by Jerry Spinelli

MARCH BOOK ONE by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

MIDWINTERBLOOD by Marcus Sedgwick

P.S. BE ELEVEN by Rita Williams-Garcia

ROSE UNDER FIRE by Elizabeth Wein

THE THING ABOUT LUCK by Cynthia Kadohata



I’ve read half the list this year which is about average.  Which means I have…some amount of months to read the rest?  It starts some time in March to parallel March Madness but I’m not sure when this year.  I guess I had better start reading!  Lucky for me, my hold on All The Truth That’s In Me just came through.

Best Books of 2013

1 02 2014

We’re a month into 2014, which is late for a best books of last year post.  But you know what? I don’t think it matters because these books are so good, they have a chance of being your favorite books of 2014. I loved these books so much I just can’t help talking about them. So I will.  In no particular order…

The YA

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson: Just when you thought you were tired of dystopia, someone writes a real science fiction novel about the future!  I love this world–I can see the pyramid city of Palmares Tres when I close my eyes.  June is an artist, her passion for her work is infectious.  She is into making a scene and making a point.  Her political actions are inspiring or at the very least thought-provoking.  I heard a lot of complaints that people found this book confusing and they couldn’t understand the world.  I feel like they must have read a different book than I did.




Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis: Survival book!  Brutal beginnings, and a brutal world with a water shortage.  I never thought I would like this book as much as I did but the picture of this small world that Lynn lives in is vivid and her character development is spot on.





This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales: A book about an outsider trying to fit in.  Yes, I do like contemporary realistic fiction sometimes and this is one of those times.  Her passion for learning to DJ–which is layered on top of her general geekiness about things she loves–is great and it never feels like she has to change herself.  Elise just has to find herself and she does.  Love the soundtrack on Spotify to go with the book!




Scarlet by Marissa Meyer: The second book in the Lunar Chronicles is better than the first!  Layer in the story of Red Riding Hood onto the Cinderella story which is already full of cyborgs and futuristic technology, plus people from the moon and you have an awesome book that doesn’t feel like a fairytale retelling.  I can’t wait for Cress…and I don’t have to wait long! It comes out on Tuesday!




The Non-Fiction

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani, illustrated by Maris Wick: I have a soft spot for books about animals, books about researchers and fantastic graphic novels.  This is all three so you can see why I loved it.  Ottaviani ties all three researchers together but still manages to give you a snapshot into each of their lives.  It’s enough to wet your appetite for more, especially if, like me, you really didn’t know much about Birute Galdikas. I should really put a more comprehensive book about primates on my to-read list for this year.


The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies Captured the World’s Most Famous Nazi by Neal Bascomb: Another fabulous non-fiction book that is suspenseful despite knowing how it turns out.  I didn’t know the exact details of this mission but I really loved reading about it.  There is so much personal baggage involved for each of the people involved in carrying out this mission.  We learn about this, yet it doesn’t bog down the story which keeps pushing along until finally, Adolf Eichmann is captured and the world seems sane again. If you read and liked Bomb by Steve Sheinkin, this book should go on your reading list.



The Wild Cards

Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple: Some days you need a great adult book that makes you laugh.  This is it and it’s lucky that it’s not only funny but also touching.  Ok, that’s probably not luck, it’s actually the skill of Maria Semple.  I loved this so much I finished reading it in spite of my severely dilated pupils (thanks, eye doctor) because I just needed to know what happened.





Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage:             A tween mystery set in a teeny, tiny Southern town.  What is not to love?  I don’t know because I couldn’t believe I hadn’t read this Newbery-honor wining book in 2012.  This year, I’ve already gotten my hands on The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, the sequel to Three Times Lucky being published in the spring.  I would follow Mo LoBeau to the ends of the earth.  I just hope she gets Lavender in the end! (Don’t know who Lavender is? Just go read the book! You’ll love him, too.)



Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kevin Cornell: Do you need a hilarious book for story time that invites participation? Mac Barnett can help!  Actually, if you can find him to literally read the book for you, he’s very good at that.  But I’m sure you can do this book justice because it’s written to be read aloud.  The book design is hysterical because there are no monkeys to count in this book…at least, not until you get to the endpapers.  But not to worry, there are grizzly bears and lumberjacks and all sorts of other hilarity along the way.  Cornell’s illustrations are perfectly goofy without straying too far into cartoons.

I really am back

25 01 2014

It has been an incredibly long time since I blogged on any sort of regular basis.  What else have I been doing with my time?

I moved to Chicago for a new job, spent 2 years teaching small children about financial literacy, then switched jobs a couple more times.  Still in Chicago, currently focused on tweens.

I’ve been rehabbing my apartment.  Trust me, however much work you can imagine an apartment needing, double it and you’ll be imagining my apartment before the work started.  This leaves little time for reading, let alone blogging.  I’ve gotten behind on my book journal, on my reading goals, on almost everything. We’re not done with the apartment yet but we’re close.

And I’ve still been reading so much YA!  Last year was not my favorite year for YA but it’s still an amazing field.

What can you expect to see here in the near future:

  • A new look!
  • Posts about YA books
  • More posts about middle grade books than ever before–that’s a great area for new books, and it’s now a part of my job
  • Posts about SLJ Battle of the Books!  One of my favorite events of the year.
  • Other posts I haven’t even thought of yet!

I’m going to try to blog on some sort of schedule as I think that will help me and my readers.  But I have yet to determine that schedule.  I’m hoping Saturday mornings, like today, will be productive.  Thanks for sticking with me–or checking out my blog for the first time.

Happy reading!

I’m baaaaaack!

24 09 2013


What is that fabulous book meme

And I want to talk about fabulous books!

SLJ BotB Commentary…Better Late Than Never

31 03 2012

New promise for the blog–no more promises!  Life often gets in the way of typing over here.

I haven’t even had a chance to catch up with the battles at School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books until this morning and boy, were there some tough ones.  E. Lockhart, possibly my favorite YA author, judged Daughter of Smoke and Bone against Chime.  She didn’t love Karou like I loved Karou.  She picked Chime which means only one thing: now I have to read it.  Chime has been a much-discussed book among librarians.  It is equally loved and hated by my wonderful librarian friends and colleagues.  But it beat the book I was pulling for and if E. Lockhart says it’s better than a book I love, I should definitely find out.  Add it to my always growing to-read pile…

The final match-up, with our undead poll winner Okay for Now up against Between Shades of Gray and Life: An Exploded Diagram .  I am shocked to find that I have read two of these books!  The first two, and judging from the, well, judging, neither of them is as sophisticated as Mal Peet’s lengthy tome.  The ones I read are fairly slim books.  Okay for Now has spare narration that makes you think about what Doug is saying.  Between Shades of Gray is Lina’s straight forward tale of the horrors she experiences, and her description of the pictures she draws to keep herself going.  And that’s where I have to fault this book.  I know that not all books have to be illustrated but I wanted so badly to see Lina’s drawings, just a few. I know the author may not be an artist but that’s why illustrators exist.  With illustrations, this book might have held more power for me.  I think it is important, well-written and a fairly easy read about a hard topic.  But it doesn’t shine for me.

It seems to me that the battle is between Between Shades of Gray and Life: An Exploded Diagram.  Since I can’t judge a book I haven’t read, I’ll just have to blindly root for Okay for Now.  That being said, I have read the judges’ commentary on the book and it says something that the possible (and in my mind likely) winner of SLJ BoB is thought to be not particularly appealing to YA readers.  At a time when the readership of YA is expanding, I find this to be an interesting development.  I wonder what other books will be published under the YA flag this year.