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?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Published By: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Number of Pages: 325
How I Got This Book: e-ARC from Netgalley
My Rating: 5/5

Goodreads Summary:

""Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under."


I loved this book so much! First, I loved the 80's references (it's always nice for us "older" YA readers to be able to connect to a book for nostalgic reasons). I loved that Eleanor and Park weren't your typical couple. And I loved how I felt reading this book - it made me remember my first love and those strong emotions that I experienced...there is just nothing like it. 

Eleanor was new to the school. She lived with her mom, and 3 younger siblings...oh, and a horrible, HORRIBLE stepfather. They lived in a "bad" neighborhood. Eleanor wore clothes from Goodwill that never fit right, much less were trendy, and they rarely had enough food to eat. She even mentioned that she didn't even have a toothbrush...she rubbed salt on her teeth in the school bathroom. She was also overweight and had bushy red hair and freckles. She was basically a walking target for ridicule as a new kid. 

On her first day riding the bus, everybody refuses to share a seat with her...until Park takes pity on her and shares his seat with her (although he wasn't very nice about it.) From there, a relationship is born...they discover that they have a lot in common - comic books, music, books...there is so much for them to talk about! Park, who also feels like a misfit as he is the only Korean kid at school, realizes he is falling for this unusual girl. And Eleanor is REALLY falling for Park. Hard. 

But, she has to be careful. Her stepfather keeps a tight leash on her, and she has to hide her friendship with him. She also knows that she is not the type of girl that Park's parents would want their son with. Park's mom is a beautiful, tiny Korean hairdresser. His dad is a good looking, strict army veteran. Eleanor feels very out of place in their "perfect" home. At first she tries to hide her own family life from Park, but slowly she begins to share about the horror that she lives with.

The love that blooms between them is sweet, and the only way I can think to explain it is "perfectly imperfect." It seems that all odds are against them, but they just love each other so much. I love that Park, even though he described himself as a misfit, he seemed to be popular and goodlooking, could get past Eleanor's outward appearance, and love everything about her. He didn't love her in spite of her flaws, but loved her because of them. 

I don't want to give anything away -  because I HIGHLY recommend this book - but be prepared to be sucked into this unusual romance and all the emotions that come with it. I hope you will love Eleanor and Park as much as I did! I am totally looking forward to Rainbow's next book Fangirl. I also received this one from Netgalley, so hopefully I can get to it soon!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. It is a chance to showcase a book that has not yet been published, but are anxiously awaiting.

This week, I decided to feature Born of Illusion by Teri Brown: 

Born Of Illusion 

Release Date: June 11, 2013

Goodreads Summary: 

" Anna Van Housen is thirteen the first time she breaks her mother out of jail. By sixteen she’s street smart and savvy, assisting her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, and easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City. Handcuffs and sleight of hand illusions have never been much of a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother, who will stop at nothing to gain her ambition of becoming the most famous medium who ever lived. But when a strange, serious young man moves into the flat downstairs, introducing her to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, he threatens to reveal the secrets Anna has fought so hard to keep, forcing her to face the truth about her past. Could the stories her mother has told her really be true? Could she really be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician of all?"

I am not usually a huge historical fiction reader, but this has magicians in it, and that whole world fascinates me! I think it will be awesome! And that cover is beautiful!

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday...Cover Love!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week it's all about the covers! Here are my top 10 favorite covers of books that I have already read:

1.)  Confessions of a Murder Suspect As soon as I saw this in the store, I was obsessed with it! It's so shiny in real life, and just a really pretty cover! And I just finished reading it last night - so good!

2.) The Selection (The Selection, #1) I think most everyone will agree with me that this is just a pure and simple gorgeous cover!

3.) Until I Die (Revenants, #2) All of these books are gorgeous! They are even prettier in person! This is the second book in the trilogy...I have the third one (and it is beautiful too!) but I haven't read it yet.

4.) The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight I don't know why I love this cover so much - it's rather plain and simple...but I do! I like the black and white, love the heart, and the font is sooooo cute!

5.) Fracture (Fracture, #1) Great cover for a great book!

6.) Shine This cover is just so different...and it's more of a matte finish with a little bit of gold shine to it - just really attractive! And I loved the book!

7.) Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1) I LOVED this book, and I LOVED this cover...however, they redid the cover design and I do NOT like the new one. This one is so much prettier.

8.) Hourglass (Hourglass, #1) The way that Emerson is standing on the cover - that is, sideways - drew my attention right away and made me want to read the book. All the covers are unusual in this way, and I just think it's cool!

9.) Divergent (Divergent, #1) C'mon now, this is just an amazing cover, and the following books are just as amazing!

10.) The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories, #1) I love the whimsy in this cover!

Did any of these covers make your list?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Musings...How I Feel About Sequels

There are many different kinds of readers...and different reactions to sequels. Some people have to go out and buy the sequel to that beloved book the day that it's released and stay up all night to finish it. Then of course, they must pine away for another year or so until the next book releases. Other people won't even start a series until all the books are published so that they can devour them one right after another. What kind of sequel reader am I?

Well, I guess I'm a mixture of the two...if there is a series that I absolutely love (ahem, Shatter Me or The Selection, for example), I will likely clamor with the crowds to buy the sequel. But...then they languish on my shelves for a long time. Why? Well, this is something I wondered about as I look at all the sequels sitting on my shelf that I have yet to get to (I haven't even read Insurgent yet!!) I honestly believe that I have a fear of sequels. When I love a book sooooo much, I guess I'm afraid that the next book can't possibly be as good, and that I'll be disappointed. Or maybe I'm subconsciously savoring the anticipation, much like I do with gifts. I never tear into presents, but open them slowly, letting the anticipation build before revealing the mystery inside. I think this is how I am with my books too. Each story is a gift waiting to be opened. Some people like to tear into them, and some (like me) want to savor the anticipation before diving into it.

As I write this, I've decided to meet my fear of sequels head on, and open up the gift of Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi. And I can't wait to see what's inside!

What kind of sequel reader are you?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Waiting in Wonder by Catherine Claire Larson

Published by: Thomas Nelson Publishers
Release Date: April 16, 2013
Number of Pages: 379
How I Got This Book: ARC sent by publisher for review
My Rating: 5/5

Summary from Goodreads:

"A devotional journal inviting women to embrace the spiritual journey that awaits as they prepare for the high and holy calling of motherhood.

Expecting a baby is a time of unfolding wonders--from the jolt of first heartbeat, to the buds of tiny fingers, to the flutter of little kicks. During pregnancy, a mother's body nourishes this quiet miracle's development. But through the trials of morning sickness, the anticipation of labor, and the questions of whether she'll be a good mother, she'll need her own nourishment--both physical as well as spiritual. She'll want to nurture her own heart so that she may one day strengthen the spiritual life of this child entrusted to her.

"Waiting in Wonder "guides readers through the weeks of pregnancy with devotions designed to encourage, strengthen, and inspire. Each devotion includes Scripture and journaling space for writing personal thoughts, prayers, dreams, even love letters to the growing baby. And when baby is born, mother will hold a lifelong keepsake for rereading and reliving a truly wonder-filled time of physical change and spiritual growth."


Where, oh where was this book when I was expecting my kiddos? This is the sweetest, neatest devotional book I've ever seen for expecting mothers! It is not just a devotional, but also a journal where you can record your thoughts and feelings about your pregnancy. For each week (starting at week 5), there are several paragraphs about what is happening developmentally with the baby and the mother's body. Then there is a list of specific areas to pray about and praise God for. Following the list is a Memory verse. There are 4-5 devotions for each week, with questions to prompt journaling. 

I just think this is a beautiful book and the perfect gift for any expecting mother. I really wish I had had something like this - it would be so nice to look back on what I was thinking during those special times in my life. And what a precious gift it would be to hand the completed journal to the child when THEY were expecting their first baby - what a wonderful connection between mother and child!

Here is a sample from Week 40:

One of the points for prayer is " Pray for your little one as he or she arrives that ll vital signs will be strong. And pray for his or her spiritual vitality in the years to come."

The memory verse is 1 Thessalonians 3:9 "How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?" (How precious is that???)

One of the journaling prompts is "Dear Little One, As I wait to finally meet you, I want you to know..."

I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone who is expecting, planning a pregnancy, or knows someone who is expecting. 

You can purchase a copy on Amazon or from your local Christian bookstore. And guess what? You can enter below for a chance to win a free copy from Thomas Nelson!  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stocking the Shelves - May 19, 2013

I was good and didn't buy any books this week (despite a trip to Barnes and Noble yesterday), but that doesn't mean I didn't get any books from other sources!

First, another trip to the library...

1.) Scrawl by Mark Shulman
2.) Ashes by Ilsa Bick
3.) Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

I now have 16 library books in my possession (not counting my kids'...). Good thing our library allows you to renew up to a year!

Next, I got one book in the mail this week for review:
Basher Science: Extreme Biology by Simon Basher - received through Shelf Awareness. After I read and review this, it will be going into circulation at the middle school where I work! My kids, especially the boys, seem to really like the science section.
And these are the books I received from Netgalley:
Secret for a SongTumble & FallGatedPlaying Tyler
The Summer I Became a Nerd

That's what I'm stocking my shelves with this week...what did you get? Have you read any of these?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: Embracing You, Embracing Me by Michelle Bellon

Embracing You, Embracing Me
Published by: Fingerpress
Release Date: May 7, 2012
Number of Pages: 266
How I Got This Book: Netgalley
My Rating: 2/5
Summary from Goodreads:
" In a decade when image matters, when the so-called Generation X is swelling with 'future perfect' hopes and pride, 16-year-old Roshell McRady dances her way through High School, never quite admitting that she's ashamed of her trailer park family home. Meanwhile she listens to Madonna while conjuring creative Top Ramen recipes to feed her younger cousins; she empties enough hairspray until her bangs are feathered and vertical like a lethal weapon; and she agonises over how to convince Gabriel Harrison, the new Mystery Guy in town, to invite her to the prom - a night which threatens to turn into a disaster. But then life takes a dramatic turn for Roshell, and her life changes forever. A love story emerges from the anguish of Roshell's life, and when she leaves school and finds work at a casino, things don't get any less complicated for her - until one night a powerful dream marks out the exact path that she must take. Embracing You, Embracing Me has young adult humour and nineties-style cultural aspirations, but surprises with some hard-hitting moments that give the book a keen edge."
First, the positive. I really loved all the 90's cultural references. I was a teen in the 90's and a lot of this story just really brought me back to that time in my life when I was dating. I really enjoyed that time of my life, so it was nice to reminisce. The story itself was interesting enough; I was never bored reading it...however, I have to say, it reminded me of something I might have written myself as a teen. In other words, it had an amateur feel to it.
The characters, namely Roshell, just did not pull me in. I never really felt a connection with her. And her relationship at the end of the book really put me off. It was clear to me that it was a dysfunctional relationship (Nico says mean things to her, and she hits him; he just seems cold at times) but the author did not put this in a bad light at all. She makes it seem like this kind of relationship is ok, and I did not like that at all. I know relationships in real life are not all roses and rainbows, but I think that if a story includes a damaging kind of relationship, it should show some kind of consequence...especially if it's targeted towards a teen audience. I would not want my daughter to read this and think that this is normal and ok.
Which brings me to another problem...the age range in this book (Roshell is 15 in the first half of the book, and 20 in the second) makes it hard to target an audience. It just seemed like to broad of an age range to make it a good YA book (in my opinion). The writing style would really not pull in an adult audience either.
Overall, the story was entertaining, but left something to be desired.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Stocking the Shelves - preparing for summer break edition!

It's been awhile since I posted a STS...I'm probably not including everything I've gotten since my last post. I'm just including what I've gotten in the past 2 weeks or so. I am now on summer vacation, so I really look forward on catching up with my reading pile!

First are the books I've purchased. I'm trying not to spend much because I really don't NEED to...I'm trying to save money for summer activities. But, of course, there are SOME necessities!

1.) The Elite by Kiera Cass - yes, this was a necessity!
2.) If I Should Die by Amy Plum - DEFINITELY a necessity! This is the conclusion of the series, and I need my Vincent fix!
3.) Halflings by Heather Burch - I was sent the second book for review awhile back, so I need the first one - plus it was only $3!

Next, my library books...yeah, I got a little carried away. I seriously only meant to go in to pick up my ordered copy of Sever...but I couldn't resist looking. And we all know what looking leads to...(and that is Kitty Katniss sniffing around...she insisted on making an appearance!)

1.) The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen - this is on many awards lists, so I need to check it out!
2.) Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson - I've been drooling over this for awhile!
3.) Sever by Lauren DeStefano - my main reason for going into the library in the first place! I will be sad for this series to end!
4.) Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake - also on awards lists
5.) The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine - Sequoyah master list
6.) Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans - one of my jr high boys did a book talk on this and he convinced me to read it!
7.) Mind Games by Kiersten White - been on my TBR for awhile
8.) Mystic City by Theo Lawrence - supposed to be like The Hunger Games and Matched? yes, please!
9.) Ashfall by Mike Mullin
10.) Stick by Andrew Smith

Here are the books I received in the mail for review:

1.) The Resurrectionist by E.B. Hudspeth - received from Quirk Publishing
2.) Oh Brother! a Nicco and Tugger Tale by Kimberly Sentek - sent by author along with a very nice "thank you" card.
3.) A Sheltered Life: Take it to the Streets by Jeremy Reynalds - sent by author
4.) The Lake House by Marci Nault - sent by publicist
5.) Nothing More, Nothing Less by Ashley Dukart - received through Shelf Awareness
6.) As Nora Jo Fades Away: Confessions of a Caregiver by Lisa Cerasoli - from publicist
7.) Romeo Blue by Phoebe Stone - received through Shelf Awareness

And finally, the following are e-books I've received through Netgalley:

TwigsTouchBackwardsThe Last AcademyConfessions of an Almost-Girlfriend (Confessions, #2)The Truth About You and MeCrush. Candy. Corpse.Screwed

So, that is MOST of what I've gotten's gonna be a busy summer! Have you read any of these, and if so what did you think? What should I start with?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Review: Coyote Winds by Helen Sedwick with Author Guest Post!

Published by: Ten Gallon Press
Release Date: November 8, 2012
Number of Pages: 230
How I Got This Book: from Julia Drake PR for review
My Rating:  4/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

 When thirteen-year old Myles brings home a coyote pup half-blinded by a dust storm, his father warns him a coyote can’t be trusted. His neighbor loads his rifle and takes aim. Yet Myles is determined to tame the pup just as his father is taming the land. The time is 1930. Tractors and fertilizers are transforming the prairie into the world’s breadbasket. The American dream is within every man’s reach. But when drought turns these dreams into paint-stripping, crop-killing dust, Myles wonders if they have made a mistake trying to tame the untamable. Seventy years later, when Andy remembers his Grandpa Myles’s tales about growing up on the prairie, he wonders what stories he will tell when he has grandchildren. Algebra, soccer practice, computer games, the mall? Determined to keep his grandfather’s memories alive and have some adventures of his own, Andy heads out to discover what’s left of the wild prairie. Inspired by her father’s tales of growing up during the Dust Bowl, Sedwick weaves insight, humor, historical details and unforgettable characters into a coming-of-age story that reminds us that chasing a dream, even if it brings heartache, is far better than not dreaming at all.


First, thank you to Julia Drake for sending me this book for review. Not only did she send me a copy for myself, she also sent me a copy for the middle school library where I work! That was really nice! Also, thank you to the author, Helen Sedwick, for writing a guest post for the blog...look for that at the end of the post - it's great information!

I am not a big reader of historical fiction, I admit. But, I was quickly drawn into this story.  I loved how the chapters alternate between 3 different characters - Andy, a modern day boy who is intent on keeping his beloved grandfather's memories alive; Myles, the grandfather (when he was about the same age as Andy), and Ro, Myles' coyote pup. I don't think I've read a book that not only has narrative from humans AND animals, but also takes place in 2 different time periods as well. You might think this would make things confusing, but Sedwick did a wonderful job in making everything flow perfectly.

I loved Andy - I loved that he loved and admired his grandfather so much that he wanted to learn everything he could about how he grew up. He was desperate not to forget all the stories that his grandfather told him. He even takes a very risky journey to the place where Myles grew up, hundreds of miles away. I loved learning about the Dust Bowl through the eyes of Myles. Living in Oklahoma, I have heard a lot about this scary time, but Myles' story made me understand more about emotional or human side. Ro's perspectives were also a lot of fun to read. You think of coyotes as wild animals that are dangerous to humans, but Ro makes it clear that this isn't always the case. He was a loyal protector to Myles and his family.

This book is directed to a middle grade audience, but I recommend this heartwarming book to anyone!

Why Should Young Readers Try Historical Fiction
Guest Blog by Helen Sedwick for Once and Future Librarian

I have loved historical fiction ever since I read SNOW TREASURE by Marie McSwigan in second grade. Based on a true story, SNOW TREASURE tells of Norwegian children sneaking nine million dollars of gold past the noses of Nazi soldiers by strapping the heavy bars onto their snow sleds. That slim novel taught more me about war, courage, and country than I had learned in the classroom. 

That’s one of the many powers of historical fiction. 

Historical fiction puts a living face on history. Good historical novels focus on characters, not events. Readers are pulled into the past by identifying with characters. They feel what it was like to mush through the Arctic, to starve in an orphanage, to hunt with a spear, or to outwit a father intent on selling his daughters. The characters become real and memorable. Who can forget Brat of The Midwife’s Apprentice sleeping in a dung pile to stay warm, or Kit of The Witch of Blackbird Pond diving into the icy waters off Connecticut expecting them to be as tepid as the Caribbean Sea?
When readers identify with characters, they appreciate the impact of historical events on individual lives. They learn history without realizing it.

Historical fiction opens our eyes to the present. By pulling the reader into the mind of someone living long ago, historical fiction explores the attitudes and assumptions that may be so integrated into a character’s life, he or she is unaware of them. Slaves assume they will never learn to read. The aristocracy assume they deserve their privileges. Orphans assume no one will ever love them. Typically, those assumptions are challenged in the book, even tossed aside. At its best, historical fiction may make us conscious of our own assumptions about life, family and society and how they affect our attitudes and actions.
For instance, in my novel, COYOTE WINDS, Myles brings home a coyote pup who’s been injured in a dust storm. His neighbor Herbert Moser wants to kill the pup and put his pelt on the fence post to warn other coyotes away. He tells Myles “the land is worthless unless we graze it, the rain is wasted unless we catch it, and mountains are in the way unless we blow them to bits for iron and gold.” A century ago this was a common view; nature was there to be exploited. I hope readers will learn something by contrasting their view of nature with Herbert’s.

Historical fiction demonstrates cause and effect. Most historical novels try to explain historical events from the ground up. What were individual people thinking and how were they affected by historical events? How did their attitudes and reactions bring about other events.
In COYOTE WINDS, Myles’s father Lionel has a healthy dose of the American can-do spirit that helped settle the West. He believes that hard work and technology paved a sure path to success.
During the 1920s, Lionel and thousands like him plowed up millions of acres of raw grasslands on the dry, southern prairie. They wanted to build a future for their families and help feed the world. But instead, they brought about the Dust Bowl, one of the worst man-made ecological disasters in history. 
The attitudes and errors of individuals affect history more than we realize. Perhaps that is why so many people say to ignore history is to repeat it.

Historical fiction strengthens our sense of community. Recently, The New York Times ran a fascinating article, THE STORIES THAT BIND US, about the power of a strong family narrative to help children cope with stresses of life.  Researchers discovered that “the more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families function.” Knowing that you are not alone, but instead have a role in a community that expands over both distance and time, is reassuring and gives meaning to such words as family, history, and future.
What is true of family is true of community as well. History binds us together and strengthens us. It explains the present and helps us plan for the future. After all, down the road, writers will be creating historical novels about our lifetimes. Let’s give them some good things to say about us.

Historical fiction is just plain fun. Put aside those lasers, robots and high-tech contraptions of future, dystopian worlds. In historical novels, we can survive shipwrecks, tame horses, snare rattlesnakes, hop trains, chase spies, dance at balls, and swim with dolphins. We can understand our own world better as we exercise our imaginations. We can have fun.

Helen Sedwick
My website:          
I also welcome emails at 

Helen Sedwick is the author of COYOTE WINDS. A finalist in the 2011 Mainstream Fiction Writer’s Digest Competition and the Lorian Hemmingway Short Story Contest, Helen Sedwick recently won second place in the Redwood Writers Flash Fiction Contest for a piece adapted from COYOTE WINDS. She is a lawyer and lives in the Sonoma wine country with Howard Klepper, a builder of handcrafted guitars, and an exuberant hound dog named Farlow. For more info,