Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child by Maria T. Lennon

Published by: Harper Collins
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Number of Pages: 288
How I Got This Book: sent by author for review
My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Summary:

"It's Mean Girls for tweens in the tradition of Paula Danziger's Cat That Ate My Gymsuit and Judy Blume! Watch out, world: here comes Charlie C. Cooper-computer whiz, reformed bully, and so-called middle child-in this seriously funny debut tween novel from screenwriter Maria T. Lennon.

Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child stars the hilariously cheeky reformed bully and tween hacker Charlie Cooper as she tries to ditch her middle-child reputation and make cool friends at her new school in Los Angeles. But being cool isn't as easy as it looks. Charlie has to face down the mean girls and decide between right and wrong once and for all when she learns the terrible truth behind Marta the Farta's bad attitude and loner status. And Charlie has to do it all in outfits meant for the runways!

Maria T. Lennon has created a fresh and fun story that brings Mean Girls to the tween level, peppered with snarky asides, major attitude, and advice to spare from Charlie-whether you asked for it or not.

Check out an excerpt:
"Her name was Marta the Farta, and you could see her from space, she was that bad. She had a beard, teeth the color of butter, and a nest of hair that defied gravity and provided homes for small animals; and yes, she loved to fart. But she was also the most talented gymnast I'd ever seen in my life. We're talking Olympics time. So anyway, this is the story of how I changed her life, and yeah, all right, fine, how she changed mine."


First, thank you to Maria T. Lennon for sending me your book for review (and thank Charlie for me too!)  

For the first couple of chapters, I wasn't sure if I could like Charlie. She was snarky (yes, I know. This is normal for a 7th grader. I am the proud owner of a 7th grade girl, and I work with middle schoolers.) But, she was also "prickly" and frankly, her attitude towards adults kind of got under my skin. BUT, Charlie worked her way into my heart. She was a tough chick, but she obviously had a good heart. The way she -unwillingly, at first - took Marta under her wing really won me over. More than anything, she wants to fit in at her new school, and finds a "friend" who could catapult her into popularity. But, what Charlie realizes is that this popular girl, Trixie, is really not a nice person at all. Grudgingly she admits to herself that while Marta will pretty much kill her chance of popularity, she knows that sticking up for her is the right thing to do. 

Now, the character of Marta was also hard to like at first. You want to feel sorry for her because she is the outcast that everyone makes fun of. But, the way she lashes out at everyone kind of makes it hard to feel bad for her. But, then you find out more of Marta's story that makes you realize why she is the way she is, and you can't help but like her. 

This is a book that many tweens will enjoy. Charlie has been both the bully and the victim which makes her easy to relate to. I really enjoyed the story. I liked how Charlie was kind of a reluctant heroine. Overall, I thought this was a wonderful, well-written book and I will definitely be recommending this to my middle school students! I hope that there are more Charlie books in the future!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: Mr. Puzzle Super Collection by Chris Eliopoulos

Published by: Capstone Young Readers
Release Date: August 1, 2013
Number of Pages: 128
How I Got This Book: ARC from Capstone through Shelf Awareness
My Rating: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

"With his incredible powers, Mr. Puzzle can stretch, bend, shrink, grow, and will work hard to keep the folks of Busyville safe from trouble. What a nice guy! Mr. Puzzle, a superhero who's a perfect fit for all problems."


Mr. Puzzle is a likeable, good hearted superhero who is admired by all. He encounters many crazy villains, but none can match wits with Mr. Puzzle! 

This book is great for young, reluctant readers, particularly boys. The drawings are eye catching, but not too distracting. While the plot lines are not exactly deep and thought provoking, they are entertaining. I liked that a few good messages were worked in, such as the importance of education. 

Overall, a good book to recommend to kids between the ages of 6 and 10 who have trouble getting into a longer story. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Review: The Center of Everything by Linda Urban

Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Number of Pages: 194
How I Got This Book: e-ARC from Netgalley
My Rating: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

"For Ruby Pepperdine, the “center of everything” is on the rooftop of Pepperdine Motors in her donut-obsessed town of Bunning, New Hampshire, stargazing from the circle of her grandmother Gigi’s hug.  That’s how everything is supposed to be—until Ruby messes up and things spin out of control. But she has one last hope. It all depends on what happens on Bunning Day, when the entire town will hear Ruby read her winning essay. And it depends on her twelfth birthday wish—unless she messes that up too. Can Ruby’s wish set everything straight in her topsy-turvy world?"

My Review: 

Ruby and her grandma, Gigi, are very close. Gigi teaches her all kinds of things, especially about the constellations. So, she is devastated when Gigi passes away. Ruby keeps going over her last minutes with Gigi and feels like she talked more than she listened to her. She wishes more than anything that she can go back in time and change things. 

Her secret wish leads to misunderstandings with her best friend, Lucy, and her newly found friend Nero. Again, she wishes she can go back in time and change things so that things would be like they used to be. Maybe wishes DO come true, but not in the way that you might expect.

This was a cute "coming-of-age" type story for middle grade readers.The protagonist, Ruby, is very likeable and the town of Bunning seems charming, if not quirky. I can honestly say I did not care for the character of Lucy, Ruby's best friend. I found that she was extremely self-absorbed and I thought that in light of the fact that Ruby's beloved grandmother passed away, she was not a very good friend to her. But, then, this is somewhat normal for this age group, I suppose! 

Overall, this was a quick, sweet read that young kids can relate to, and I enjoyed it.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Review: The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

Published by: Gallery Books
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Number of Pages: 304
How I Got This Book: e-ARC from Netgalley
My rating: 4/5

Goodreads Summary:

"First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie's looping scrawl.

Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she's caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie's own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible."

My review: 

I had a hard time getting into this book at first. The story is mostly told in first person by Angie, but there are diary entries from Lizzie's viewpoint as well. I read this as an ARC on my kindle, so the different view points were not separated very well - I assume this issue is corrected in the print copies.  Once I figured this out, I was quickly pulled into the mystery of who drove Lizzie to kill herself. 

There are so many twists and turns and shocking details in this is very hard to write a review without giving anything away...and I don't want to give a SINGLE detail away, because I want others to experience this book as I did. Once I got about 50 pages in, I read it all in one sitting! I went through many different emotions as I read this book, and my feelings for each character changed throughout the story. With Angie, at first I felt bad for her because, well, she caught her boyfriend in bed with her best friend - on PROM NIGHT. How can you not feel bad for her? Then, as her anger grows and grows, she kind of turns crazy, and I didn't really like her so much anymore. But by the end of the book, I love her again, and feel bad for her.   

For real, I wish I could say more...but you are just going to have to read it for yourself! If you are looking for a contemporary read, this is it. If you are looking for a mystery, you got it. If you are looking for an emotionally charged story - look no further. This book has a little bit of everything!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: Oh Brother! A Nico and Tugger Tale by Kimberly Sentek

Published by: Trafford Publishing
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Number of Pages: 20
How I Got This Book: sent by author for review
My Rating: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

"Two stories in one - double the reading fun! Meet Nico and Tugger, two dogs that became brothers. Their story is an endearing and fun look at sibling rivalry. - from two points of view."

My review: 

Thank you to Kimberly Sentek for sending me a signed copy of her book for review!

This is a great book to read to young children, especially if they are about to become a big brother or sister. It is about a dog, Nico, who has been the only pet for a long time, when his owners bring home a new puppy, Tugger. Nico is jealous of Tugger and acts out to try to get his owner's attention. He is resentful of the love that is being lavished on the new puppy. But after awhile he realizes that having a little puppy brother is actually kind of fun!

I rated this a 3 out of 5 because, honestly, the rhyming left something to be desired. I would have enjoyed it more if it was not written in rhyme.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Stocking the Shelves June 2013

Today I took Stephen to Books a Million because they were handing out free Superman comic books with every purchase. So, I HAD to find something to purchase, y'know...I was excited to find these two books on clearance as they've been on my TBR list for a while.:

1. Hold Still by Nina LaCour (only $3.97!!)
2. Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (only 4.97)

These are the books I got from the library this week:

1. Won Ton: a Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw (already read)
2. Amelia Rules! The Whole World is Crazy! by Jimmy Gownley (already read)
3. Marty McGuire by Kate Messner (already read)
4. EllRay Jakes is not a Chicken! by Sally Warner (already read)
5. My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody
6. Dancing Home by Alma Flor Ada
7. Close to Famous by Joan Bauer
8. See You At Harry's by Jo Knowles
9. The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

Next are the books I received in the mail for review.

1. Fear No Numbers by Jose Moretto (signed by author)
2. The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
3. The Artist's Way for Parents by Julia Cameron
4. The Gift of Adversity by Norman E. Rosenthal
5. The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman (signed by author with signed postcard bookmark!)

And the following are all books I have received through Netgalley:

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds, #2)Will in Scarlet

Jack Strong Takes a StandSometimes Never, Sometimes AlwaysPirouette

Well, that was my haul from this week...what did you all get?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Stocking the Shelves - May 26, 2013

I am still being frugal as far as book buying...being a school employee means no paycheck in the summer time. But, who can say no to a library book sale? We have a branch that always has a wall of books for sale, and YA and children's books are .50 each! Just so happened I found a couple of books that have been on my TBR list:

Resistance: Book 1 by Carla Jablonski and Leland Purvis - I actually had this on hold at the library at the time and was waiting for it to arrive. I have been trying out some graphic novels and this was one I wanted to check out. I went ahead and cancelled the hold! I've already read it and enjoyed it!
Crunch by Leslie Connor - this was on the Sequoyah Master List, so naturally, I need to read it!

And here is what I checked out from the library this week!

1. Panic by Sharon Draper - I CAN'T wait to read Draper's latest!! I know it will be great!
2. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons - been wanting to read this for a long time!
3. Delirium Stories by Lauren Oliver - gotta read everything in the Delirium series!
4. This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy J. Cavanaugh - already about 2/3 of the way through it and it is great so far!
5. Peanut by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe - already finished and LOVED this graphic novel!! Look for a review soon!
6. Drama by Raina Telgemeier - already finished this graphic novel and it was really good!
7. My Beautiful Failure by Janet Ruth Young - this just sounds so good!

And next up are my Netgalley books that I received this week:
A Really Awesome Mess

Escape from Eden

I also received one book in the mail:

My Mother's Secret: Based on a True Holocaust Story
Thank you West Wind Communications!

That is what is new on my shelf! What did you get this week?